Charting Maps

portrait

ARTIST: Leo Saul Berk, Kristen Ramirez, Bradley Winchester
MEDIUM: Mixed
RUN OF SHOW: January 26 – March 13, 2007
VENUE: Hedreen Gallery, Lee Center for the Arts

Seattle - The physical landscape has never been more fully mapped than it is today. With geographically precise atlases, webbased map servers and geotags, we locate ourselves and plot our itineraries with ease. But the landscape is psychological as well as physical; geography (like memory) is associative, and many contemporary artists borrow from map aesthetics to explore the topographical imaginary. In distinctive ways, the three artists of Charting Maps—Leo Saul Berk, Kristen Ramierez and Brad Winchester—map the personal landscape onto the material.

Using 3D modeling software and machine-driven colored pens, Leo Saul Berk creates a glittering airscape that resembles an elevation contour drawing. The work is ethereal, made of real and imaginary light and seeming to billow in the wind, but the distinctly man-made technology of mark-making turns unknowable territory into a legible space.

Kristen Ramirez’s maps guide us back to ourselves, transmuting familiar landscapes by imbuing them with personal histories. For the Seattle Postcard Project Ramirez cut her own letterpress map of Seattle into postcards, asking recipients "What do you know about Seattle?" Self-addressed and stamped, the cards made their way back to Ramirez with messages both poetic and pragmatic, such as a mnemonic device for Seattle's downtown streets – "Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure.” Reassembled in the gallery, Seattle Postcard Project reveals the mental terrain of our city.

Brad Winchester’s paintings also map our world, but on a more national scale. Beginning with meteorological maps, Winchester repositions the chaotic images of famous storms within a painted grid, building his canvas block by block. What results is a sublime balance between the formality of the grid and the powerful swirl of a natural storm.