Artistic Endeavors – Interpretive Maps

Lately I’ve been exploring maps as artistic interpretations of a place or idea because a group I belong to has a map quilt challenge this year. My thinking, which was running along prosaic geographic paths, was transformed by Diane Savona’s map creations. She says,”[Maps] can also teach history. They can be used to hold stories and feelings about a place.”

One of Savona’s earliest map works was Hometown Perceptions.

“A young man told me that he is afraid to go into neighboring Paterson, which has a mostly African-American population. I’m a middle-aged woman, and feel no such danger. This map explores our subconscious feelings and prejudices, the perceptions we develop about our homes and our neighbors. Most of the materials were obtained at local garage sales.”

Static 1 was Savona’s response to a trip to India.

“In ancient castles in India, royal women could only view the outside world through carved stone grills called jali. While traveling through India in an enormous white bus, I felt that I was also getting a very limited view of this amazing country. Returning home, I printed a pattern using images of tour bus windows. This cloth was set over wool, cut into and sewn to create a textile jali over images of India, printed on cloth.”

In Hurricane New Orleans Savona used locks and keys, the symbols of a secure dwelling.

“Based on a map of the Chalmette section of New Orleans. There are actual keys embedded under the cloth. Other sections have discharged images of keys and locks.”

Finally, Savona’s response to the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

“During a month in Hiroshima, I spent many days ‘beachcombing’ the river edges at low tide. I found ceramic shards, electronic bits…and glass fused by the blast 70 years ago. ( I checked with the museum: it is permissible to take these items). This map shows a section of the city nearest to the blast epicenter, with the rivers forming long black verticals, crossed by connecting white bridges.”

I hope you look at Savona’s other work as well. I’ve just started reading her blog, where she talks about her processes. Talk about thinking outside the box.

For more creative, often non-fabric, maps check out cARTography.


Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Inspiration

14 responses to “Artistic Endeavors – Interpretive Maps

  1. I loved this when I first read it back in April, and meant to comment then. (I usually initially read on a tablet, then go comment with a real keyboard.)
    You made me remember a bunch of art map books I saw at a famous map store in Seattle — I just went and ordered them.

  2. Savona has a lot to say! And what a medium she has found for saying it–these are magnificent in their detail! I’ll look forward to seeing where this consideration of maps takes you.

    • If you read Savona’s blog you can get some idea of the work she puts into her pieces. Lately she’s been cutting up thrift store wool coats and boiling them with other materials to get certain colors. My map project keeps getting more complex in my mind, and I wonder how I’m going to realize it.

  3. Thank you for this post. I love Diane Savona’s artwork, it is very inspiring. I also like it when I read the comments people leave here, it seems I’m always learning about other art and artists!

  4. These maps you shared are both beautiful and emotional renderings. I was a friend of an amazing artist/cartographer, Ruth Lepper Gardner, and she lived to be almost 106. She was feisty, smart, and talented. Here’s a link to a story about her Your post made me think of how I could interpret her talent and our friendship into a fabric map. Thanks for this post.

    • Wow, thanks for the information about Ruth Lepper Gardner. You were fortunate to have known her. I can thought of all sorts of ideas for a fabric map related to her and her interests, and I’m sure your mind is teeming with possibilities.

  5. Barbara

    I work primarily intuitively but have been wanting to explore more conceptual pieces. These pieces are brilliant and meaningful without being in your face or trite as some conceptual work can be. Love it! And love your blog and the ideas it generates in my mind. Thank you.

    • Thanks for the kind words about this blog. I know what you mean about the layers of meaning in Savona’s work. Sometimes meaningful, message driven work can come up short aesthetically. I don’t feel that’s the case here.

  6. Rosemaryflower

    Wow, this is very interesting art work that is deeply a personal expression that provokes assessments of our own. I like the India one the best – the colors

  7. Thanks for the look at non-geographical maps. That’s certainly a way to open one’s mind about maps in textiles! I’ll take a look at the cARTography link, too. Also, here is my map of Iowa — the idea of Iowa, if not the actuality.

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