Monday, February 21, 2011

Invasive: A Series of Ink Drawings

The series I have created for the mapping project includes various themes, which are based on conflict. Nature versus humanity, familiar versus foreign, and organic versus graphic are all conflicting themes in this series. Through these concepts, I have achieved an overall theme of mapping with the utilization of Photoshop alterations in maps created by the Department of Natural Resources. I have altered the maps with physical mark making to suggest a transformed physical form. I have altered the outline, shape, and form of these lakes to represent the physical characteristics of exotic species that are taking over Minnesota waters, as a result of the detrimental forces of humanity. My intent was to take the existing lake maps, which are utilized by fishermen, and change them into what they are figuratively becoming - exotic. Since the ecosystem is changing as a result of invasive species, the entireties of lakes are changing.

The concept of nature versus humanity is present in the sense that these drawings represent natural bodies of surface water, while the outlines of the lake maps are taking on the shape of their new exotic inhabitants. These exotic species represented are a current problem in the bodies of water in Minnesota, The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Humanity is to blame for the introduction of these invasive species, as they are often transported by boat. Invasive species may also be introduced as a result of domestic purposes, such as aquariums and gardens. Exotic species can sometimes be introduced with intent of fishing purposes for private parties. Regardless of whether the species were introduced purposefully or accidentally, this is a serious problem. Exotic species affect the ecosystem by preying on food that the native species would otherwise. This can result in scarcity of food, and be detrimental to the population of species in which they may prey on. Breeding becomes a problem when exotic species alter the native gene pool. Exotic parasites can be introduced when invasive species arrive in foreign waters.

The familiar versus the foreign is conceptualized through the idea of exotic wildlife within recognizable, well-known bodies of water. This is where the art becomes personal. The lake maps in which I have altered are all representations of lakes that are invaluable to my life and my childhood. These particular lakes may be at risk of exotic inhabitants, if they are not already, which may be detrimental to the ecosystem. When the ecosystem changes, the lakes may become unrecognizable and foreign to the previous occurrences of the ecosystem. The exotic species may essentially take over the lake that they newly inhabit, which is literally portrayed in this series. The lakes that nature and humanity once knew and cherished may become a foreign and unfamiliar territory. Luckily, the Department of Natural Resources plays a big role in conservation and preservation of Minnesota lakes. They make humanity aware of the threats of contamination via the transportation boats and trailers. There are sings and postings available to educate the public, as well as brochures and websites in their efforts to conserve these natural resources.

Graphic and organic are some physical characteristics that feed off of one another within these compositions. Lakes and surface water are fluid, free-forming shapes on the earth’s surface. They are, by nature, organic. When the Department of Natural Resources documented and mapped Minnesotan lakes, they took on a graphic quality. The lakes were drawn out onto grids and became very structured and geometric on paper, including the updated version on the Internet for the public to see. These maps were created in a graphic way for the utilization of the Department of Natural Resources’ records and for fishery. This graphic, simplified quality made the concept simple for humanity to detect, recognize, and follow directions. The changes I have made to these maps have returned them to their organic state. The additional mark making with ink and alterations of color have softened their rigidity and turned the subject matter into organic life forms. Though the subject matter itself has become organic and soft, there is still the underlying portrayal of a structured armature, or the original state of the map. The original state of the map is comparable to the original state and well being of the lakes. The alterations represent the changes that the ecosystem can go through when an exotic species is introduced and takes over.

Part of developing a voice as a contemporary drawer involves educating oneself about the subject matter and concepts in which one portrays, as well as educating oneself about fellow contemporary drawers who are successful in their endeavors. Jeremy Wood and Julie Mehretu are two contemporary drawers that utilize mapping, in which I can relate to with this project. I can relate to Wood in the sense that he has physically been at the location in which his art was made from. The GPS tracks his locations and keeps track of the lines and marks he makes through his travels. I feel as if the lake maps that I have incorporated in my own work are similar to this mindset. Physically, I have been in contact with the lakes that are depicted in the maps. They track where I have gone swimming, fishing, boating, etc. Each lake has significance to my own location within the world. Julie Mehretu is another contemporary artist in which my work can relate to. Her pieces involve blurring the distinction between fact and fiction and between past and present. This holds true with the relationship between the factual, graphic information given in the lake maps I have represented and the fictitious information given in the added mark making to create the forms of the exotic species that overwhelm the forms of the lakes. Although the overwhelming growth in the population of exotic species may hold true, the grand scale of the physical overtaking of an organism that the drawings depict is fictitious and is an exaggeration, although in the future, it may hold true. The past, present, and future are blurred within the alterations of the maps, the transformation of the lakes, and when these occurred.

I am satisfied with the result of this series. The mark making is pleasing to my personal style, as well as the hues and media I have chosen. The concept is significant to my entire body of work, which shares the same concepts and themes. I plan to further develop this concept and possibly create more pieces for this series. These will also appear in my senior show, as I feel that they are quite successful. The mixture of graphic and organic line, as well as the variation between thick and thin line work makes for an interesting composition. The preliminary versions of these pieces were drawn with charcoal, which was problematic when paired with the ink-printed map. I feel that I have remedied this problem in using ink throughout the entire composition.

Mapping: The Final Product

The series I have created for the mapping project is called Invasive. They are Photoshop altered lake maps printed on paper and drawn on with ink pens. Pictured is the final product...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Beginnings of Mapping Project

These were originally supposed to be the final copies of the project, however, the translation between the printed ink and the charcoal line drawings were lost. It was brought to my attentions that a more delicate line in the alteration from lake to animal would be beneficial to the compositions. Ink pens would also help to translate this idea. Thus, these became preliminary ideation for the final product. Also, I have decided to add on a fifth composition to the series.

Here is a list of the lakes with their corresponding species in which they will transform into:

Lake - Invasive Species

Winnibigoshish - Sea Lamprey

Washburn - Spiny Water Flea

Clearwater - Rusty Crayfish

Pleasant - Zebra Mussel

Eagle - Faucet Snail

Thursday, February 3, 2011


In the movies we watched during class this week, Julie Mehretu talked about how the elements of your surroundings influence your work. Architecture and urban areas seem to influence her work, along with the people she surrounds herself with. I can relate to this in my own work and process. I too, am highly influenced by my surroundings, which are rural. I have a concern for nature and its resources. Nature and humanity are both resourceful to one another, but there can also be harm caused in this distribution. Through domestication, both sides of the fence can benefit (sometimes). I am interested in paying attention to the give and take between man and nature.

These common themes in my work led me to think about lakes, which are a huge part of my surroundings. There is a constant give and take between the resources in which the lake offers man and what man offers the lake. Humans fish. The Department of Natural Resources makes sure that there is a limit on fishing and that permits are distributed. Fish populations are recorded and monitored, so that when specific species dwindle, the DNR may replenish the population. I am interested in the conversation between humans and the natural world. This leads me to mapping...

I found some old lake maps that belong to the DNR, and I am interested in how these lakes have changed over time. I also found information about specie populations in each lake and data on the upkeep of the resources. Through researching these lakes, I plan to involve the lake maps in my project. There are four lakes that are personally important to me. I either need to choose one, or make more than one piece, eventually. As of now, I plan to print out a black and white map and draw on it with charcoal, while incorporating an ink wash.

I am unsure of the subject matter in which I will draw into the map and how I will incorporate the two images. I have some photography of bait minnows in bags, which would be significant to the lakes as well as humans. I am also considering the possibility of drawing invasive species over the maps. Invasive species are carried and transported by humans when they are stuck on boats and lifts, which later are exposed to other lakes. This is a big problem for surface water and the ecosystem of these habitats.