A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
May 2, 2011
12:20 PM

Uncharted Territory

Uncharted Territory

Maps are meant to orient, to provide direction and help one navigate a place. But what happens when these tools are incomplete, obsolete or inaccurate?

This idea is at the heart of Unruly Territories, a new exhibition by Amy Chaloupka running through June 12 at the James Watrous Gallery.

An assistant curator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and an adjunct professor of art at Lawrence University, Chaloupka drew inspiration from maps and atlases in the rare maps room at the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She paid particular attention to early navigation and plat maps, “in which information was often assumed, overwritten, incomplete, or sometimes entirely fabricated.”

Seven works are presented in the spare show, and each offers a unique take on maps and a twist on their assumed purpose.

In Landloss II, Chaloupka has hand-cut a map, removing some areas and keeping others intact. The viewer can read certain highway and city names, while other information is missing in this selective view of a region. In contrast, Islands presents lakes that have been cut from a map; the waterways are the only elements posted on a sheet of paper.

Confluence IV is similar in that the work is made up entirely of bodies of water—rivers, lakes and streams cut from maps. But the tangle of waterways are connected, overlapped and tacked directly to a wall in the gallery.

Even more linear is Breach, a work whose framework is a wire grid form. Curved lines of wire work their way across the grid and then break free, extending beyond the rigid form and spreading out in gorgeous, sinuous paths.

In the far corner of the gallery hangs Churn, a work consisting of chalk grids depicting streets and neighborhoods drawn on an old schoolroom map. Empty areas may have been erased; bits of white dust hint that something was once there. It’s a fitting end to the exhibition, a reflection on what’s here versus what’s missing—and how much trust one can place in either type of information.

Unruly Territories runs through June 12 at the James Watrous Gallery. For more information, visit wisconsinacademy.org.

Photo courtesy of the James Watrous Gallery.

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About This Blog

As managing editor at Madison Magazine, I'm also an unabashed arts enthusiast. Paintings, plays, music, movies—I'm intrigued by all forms of creative expression. I enjoy talking with artists and sharing their insights, challenges, inspirations and latest endeavors. Check in regularly for details on events, previews and reviews, artist interviews and more! 

– Katie Vaughn
Follow Katie on Twitter @katiemv

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