Are maps nothing more than contour lines and earthly colors, or can they hold personal meaning and reveal how people feel about the places they visit and inhabit?
The Pierce College Art Department’s newest art show, “Shadows of the Grid”, seeks to transcend the definition of a map and reveal the relationships both students and artists form with Los Angeles County and the rest of the world.
“What is a map? We have a concept of a map, but we’re questioning who gets to define what a map is,” said Art Gallery Director Monika Del Bosque. “Maybe a map is not such a static thing.”
The show, which opened on Nov. 6 at the Pierce College Art Gallery, features several interactive exhibits as well as a collage of art and photos depicting different places in the world.
Arzu Arda Kosar, an artist who has created many pieces using maps as a motif, was invited by Del Bosque to collaborate with Pierce Exhibition Design students to put the gallery together.
One of the exhibits, titled “Terra Incognita”, is an interactive piece that Kosar has shown in different iterations at several locations in the past, including East Los Angeles College.
“Terra Incognita” is part art piece, part sociological survey, according to Kosar. It consists of a large map of Los Angeles County mounted on a wall, and visitors are encouraged to place stickers on the map to denote places they have positive or negative feelings toward.
Green stickers are placed on areas the individual feels fondly about, red stickers indicate negative feelings about a location, and yellow stickers represent indifference.
“The work is supposed to evolve,” Kosar said. “The map has visitors find areas that they’re comfy with and places they would not want to go. At the end, you’ll have a sociological survey.”
“It’s almost like a study of how people from different geographical areas interact with the geography itself. I call it ‘psycho-geography,’” Kosar said.
In addition to “Terra Incognita,” “Shadows of the Grid” features two other interactive exhibits.
There is a world map drawn on a wall that visitors leave inked fingerprints on to show the places that have meaning to them outside of L.A. County.
Additionally, there are panels set up outside of the gallery that form an exhibit called “Analog Youtube.” The first panel has a single word, and visitors are supposed to translate that word into different languages on the subsequent panels.
“It’s a game of ‘telephone,’ of sorts,” Kosar said. “It works great at such a culturally diverse college.”
In addition to the interactive exhibits, the students in Del Bosque’s exhibition design class collaborated with each other to create a collage of photos and art representative of places that have personal meaning to them.
One student, fine art photography major Carolyn Arredondo, contributed several photographs to the collage.
“I went to Seattle and it had a big impact on me, so I collaged some photos that I took there” Arredondo said. “The photos all have meaning to me, and I want people to see them and maybe have them realize that the photos have some meaning to them as well.”
“Shadows of the Grid” also features an exhibit titled “Come In, We’re Open,” which is comprised of video interviews compiled by several artists that focus on the subject of social practice, a relatively new art movement that Kosar is a part of.
“Social practice is when the artist actually leaves their studio and starts interacting with the community. Through this interaction, their art becomes a part of that community,” Kosar said.
Kosar said that artists seem to have varying opinions on what the actual definition of social practice is, and that some argue against it being an art form at all.
Del Bosque said that she’s excited to see how the interactive exhibits will evolve over the course of the gallery’s run, and that Kosar’s presence has provided a positive experience for her students.
“Kosar is looking to connect different communities together, and I thought that was a good way of bringing our campus community together,” Del Bosque said.
“I’m hoping that “Shadows of the Grid” becomes a jumping-off point for other communities and other campuses within our district. I hope it becomes a collaborative project between all of the colleges. That’s a big dream of mine,” Del Bosque said.
“Shadows of the Grid” will run until Dec. 11. There will be a closing ceremony featuring a lecture from Kosar on Dec. 4 at 6:00 p.m. in the Art History Lecture Hall, room 3300.