Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mapping as Identity

“All maps lie. All maps distort.”
Paula Scher

As an antidote to the corporate design perfection she produces in her day job as a partner at Pentagram Design the graphic artist Paula Scher paints maps informed by hierarchies of information and how it can be manipulated to emphasize the cartographer’s chosen content.

As she told Slate’s Kristin Hohenadel “My paintings are pretty dizzying. More than you ever wanted to know about everything. They’re about information overload.”

The 67-year-old Scher took up painting her maps 18 years ago whilst working on a project for Citibank.

As she explained to The New Yorker’s Julie Belcove I designed the logo in the first client meeting and spent two years having to make mind-numbing presentations.”

Scher’s cartography follows in her father’s footsteps. He was involved with making maps for the US Geological Survey and showed her how easy it is to distort information to emphasize a certain point of view.

Painting her maps by hand, Scher uses geography to create a sense of culture and identity. She is more interested in creating a sense of a place rather than an accurate rendition.

About which she says “There’s nothing scientific about it. It’s all emotional and has been since the first series of maps. They’re all connected in that they’re based on what I call [the] abstract expressionist information used in painting versus digital form to create a sense rather than trying to be accurate… It’s not perfect, but it asks questions. And I like a little imperfection in my life—and work.

Scher’s current exhibition U.S.A. is on show at New York’s Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery until the 26th of March.

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