"The Map as Art" explores mapping in Contemporary art on view at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

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"The Map as Art" explores mapping in Contemporary art on view at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Tiffany Chung, Berlin Wall Map (Scratching The Walls of Memory Project), 2010; embroidery, metal grommets, buttons on canvas, 33 x 44 1/4 inches; Courtesy of the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York.

KANSAS CITY, MO.- Inspired by the best-selling book The Map as Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art presents The Map as Art, a group exhibition of works of art that explore issues of mapping and examine the personal gesture in large-scale works. The exhibition asks visitors, “In a map of the world, where are your borders? Where does your map begin and where does it end?” These questions and more are posed in The Map As Art, on view September 14, 2012–April 21, 2013 at the Kemper Museum.

Organized by the Kemper Museum and co-curated by Barbara O’Brien, the Museum’s director and chief curator, and Katharine Harmon, author of The Map as Art (published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2009), the exhibition turns its attention to artists who use mapping as a way to make large artistic statements utilizing the myriad small gestures necessary to any depiction of location. It includes a site-specific installation by Nathan Carter and “walk-in” sculpture by Joyce Kozloff, as well as paintings and works on paper that lay claim to entire sections of the gallery. Using the vocabulary of abstraction, some artists illustrate aspects of locations, and others focus on the cultural aspects of place as political divisions between people. Based in reality or imagination, abstraction or representation, the theme of naming and presenting a place joins these diverse works of art.

Explorers and scientists have long used mapping as a way to represent new lands, to draw boundaries, and to organize content. While the imagery of mapping frequently lies in traditional iconography, maps themselves are often in flux due to changes in geography, geo-political borders, economic factors, demographics, psychographic patterns, scientific discoveries, and more. Contemporary artists have been drawn to mapping to make sense of a world where borders are both defined and fluid, and the rise in technology has increased one’s access to mapping, its related imagery, and the types of mapping available.

The Map as Art exhibition features more than thirty works of art by seven artists from around the world who literally or conceptually cull imagery from maps and mapping. These artists appropriate the visual language of mapping to address contemporary issues, the space between imagination and reality, or as a chart of the personal history and diaspora of the artist. To orient oneself in these artists’ world is to experience the compelling tension between what is mapped and its interpretation. While other exhibitions have examined cartography in contemporary art, this is the first to focus on scale—both intimate and large-scale.

Exhibition Artists
Ingrid Calame was born in Bronx, New York in 1965, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Nathan Carter was born in Dallas, Texas in 1970, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Tiffany Chung was born in Danang, Vietnam in 1969, and currently lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Joyce Kozloff was born in Sommerville, New Jersey in 1942, and currently lives and works in New York, New York. Lordy Rodriguez was born in Manila, Philippines in 1976, and currently lives and works in Vellejo, California. Robert Walden was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1968, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Heidi Whitman was born in New York in 1949, and currently lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts.

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