Maps inspire art exhibit

DeKALB – As a part of the Northern Illinois University Art Museum’s upcoming Mapping Exhibition Suite, “OBJECTIVE / SUBJECTIVE: Mapping as Visual Language” features contemporary artists using the visual and conceptual language of mapping to respond to real or imagined spaces. This exhibition will be curated by art museum staff Peter Olson and Heather Green and will be held in the North and Rotunda galleries of the NIU Art Museum from March 19 through May 24. A public reception will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. April 4.

This exhibition focuses on national and international artists, using the objective visual language of maps for subjective and personal inspiration. The ways in which these artists appropriate maps includes a variety of eclectic media and conceptual interpretations. Their works range from sincere to satirical subject matter and from cosmic to intimate scale.

For example, young Japanese artist Ken’ichiro Taniguchi traces cracks in city sidewalks. He uses the tracings as templates for fabricating meandering, lace-like sculptures out of bright yellow plastic. After he produces these sculptures, he returns to the original street locations to fit the delicate constructions back inside the crevices for photographic archiving. Taniguchi’s elegantly mindful work not only entices viewers to find beauty in the overlooked details of their surroundings, but challenges perceptions of scale, as cracks in the pavement take on the appearance of river systems seen from above or magnified biological details viewed through a microscope.

NIU alum Ben Rosecrans appropriates the utilitarian aesthetics of cartography. Rosecrans’ layers of diagrammatic line, translucent shapes and painterly swatches offer a 21st-century spin on the artistry of map-making. While the pieces are not maps in the traditional sense, Rosecrans borrows the language of mapping to create his own worlds.

Other exhibiting artists include Erin Coleman-Cruz, Nancy Engstad, Adam Benjamin Fung, Ilana Halperin, Donna Katz, Ray Klimek, Dan Miller, Dan Mills and William Walmsley.

The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall, on NIU’s DeKalb campus. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Group tours may be arranged by appointment. More information can be found at

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