Sunday, December 6, 2009

Maps of Every Place I Can Remember

One of my perennial projects - started long ago and occasionally returned to - is a sketchbook in which I endeavor to draw maps of every place that I can remember. The scale and boundaries of these maps are dictated by my recollection. I've started with the locations I my earliest memories: Grandparents houses, elementary schools, etc. As a result, though a few are quite detailed and complete, most have large gaps.
Particularly in these earliest spaces, I find myself surprised by how often a space that seems completely remembered in my mind, turns mercurial once put to paper. I will start a drawing of the first house I ever lived in sure that I recall, if not every cupboard and molding, at least the placement of rooms and doors, only to find myself rapidly flummoxed. Did my parents closet face east, or west? How large was the living room compared to my room?
My ideal version of this project is actually a website, where others could upload their own memory maps, and a cumulative diagram would form - a country delineated by the experiences of all involved. Although it would be intriguing to see how far this country would stretch, most interesting to me would be the places where the maps would overlap (although I imagine that such overlaps would often be unrecognizable without labeling).


  1. Love it! I think I remember that place with the pool...your grandmother's? Great-grandmother's? I remember eating those long vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry wafer cookies with cream centers there once.

  2. I am inspired now,though still probably won't maketime to embark on my own version of the project... also intimidated, for mine wouldn't be socleanor pretty looking.

  3. Surlygrl, yes - the one with the pool was my great grandmother's house, who did indeed stock wafer cookies. Good eye! I've also got one drawn in pencil, but still requiring ink, of your first apartment, which I'll finish up and post soon.

    Chris, I heartily endorse that you (or anyone maybe surlygrl) make any maps that you can. All that's really required the for clean and pretty look is a ruler...

  4. Have you seen or read You Are Here or The Maps as Art, both edited by Katharine Harmon?

    Also, I saw some pages from Tom Phillips's Humament at the MIA in Minneapolis last week and thought of you. Thoughts?