Art and Geography

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Two of my loves in life are
art and geography; and, it seems, there are others that share my passions.
Recently, increasing numbers of artists are incorporating the themes of
geography into their art.

The Donna Seager Gallery in San
Rafael, California, is currently housing Devorah Jacoby’s newest collection entitled “Geography”. Her art, done mostly in oil paints, has
a raw, impressionistic quality and features parts of maps and other clues that take
the viewer to places both real and imagined. Jacoby’s intent is “to help us find our bearings.”
Another exhibit with
geography as muse is Experimental
a compilation of work from a variety of artists put together by
curator Nato Thompson. According to Thompson, the exhibition explores the distinctions between geographical study and artistic experience of
the earth, as well as the juncture where the two realms collide (and possibly
make a new field altogether.)

One of the many artists
included in the show is Lize Mogel. Mogel contributed to “An Atlas of Radical Cartography,” a collection of politically
charged maps and essays. The atlas includes a world map that places Australia
in the upper center of the map and puts the Western world powers in the lower
half of the map. Although at first glance it seems to be a radical theme, the
idea of politics influencing mapping has been around as long as mapping has. 

The first time political
influences on mapping were formally brought to my attention was in a “People
and Places” class at UNC-Chapel Hill. We
discussed Jeremy W. Crampton’s “Maps as
social constructions: power, communication and visualization” and his
contention that there are many more factors that go into producing a map than
just landforms and roads. For example, take a look at the following maps:


A world map that has been flipped upside down, placing Australia in the
upper central location, in contrast to the traditional world map that places
Western Europe in that spot.


courtesy of Australia Fare




This is a map of Belgium in the shape of a lion. The map was in a book about the Dutch War of
Independence, authored by
Famiano Strada that was originally printed in 1632. The
lion is used to emit a sense of

courtesy of Cartographic Associates





This medieval world map shows the continents
of Europe, Africa, and Asia in the shape of the body of Christ with Jerusalem
in the center.  America is in
the lower left hand corner.

Image courtesy of Verso L’estrema Thule

[Translation: “Italian Traveling to the North”]


The key fact to remember
when looking at a map is that it is a representation of reality, and not
reality itself. There is no way to be exact when transferring a 3D object on to
a 2D surface; therefore someone has to make the decisions on what to include on
the map.

These artists are putting a
new twist on an old idea, as well as bringing the two worlds of art and geography

Another geography inspired art show:

Map Show” at the Rockland  Center for the Arts, NYC

for My Wonderful World

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