Exhibitions

USA with buttons

Rand McNally & Company. Political & Commercial Map of the United States (Chicago, 1921). With buttons attached ca. 1950. 41 x 60 cm.

The maker of this embellished map has managed to delicately affix each button with pink thread with minimal damage to an unforgiving surface. The buttons do not appear to correspond to specific states or cities but rather seem to have been selected solely for their decorative value.

ca. 1850 embroidered map (OML)

Map of the United States (ca. 1850). Embroidered on linen, 33 x 44 cm. Osher Collection.

The depiction of maps on fabric is not uncommon in the nineteenth century America. As part of their geography lessons, young women and girls stitched sampler maps and embroidered three-dimensional fabric globes. This crewel embroidery map reflects the dual purpose of such textile maps by demonstrating the student’s mastery of geography as well as her proficiency and creativity with various embroidery stitches to illustrate the geographic elements.

1886 map quilt (American Folk Art Museum)

[Map Quilt] (1886). 198 x 208 cm. Facsmile. Courtesy of the Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York.

This bed-sized map quilt, reduced here to about half its actual size, is a rare surviving example. Each state is represented in a rich fabric with decorative embroidery outlining its borders. The Missouri and Mississippi rivers are highlighted in blue fabric. Texas is distinguished by a prominent yellow star, a classic political symbol that conveys both the history and geographic identify of the Lone Star state in an abstract form.

Jasper Johns' Map (1961) - installed

Jasper Johns. Map (1961). 198 x 314 cm. Facsimile poster of the original at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

The map series is the last of a line of paintings in which the artist examined flat, reproducible elements such as flags, targets, numbers, and alphabets. It was Johns’ contention that the map of the United States is “seen and looked at, not examined” because it is primarily an ubiquitous and iconographic image. Over the red, blue and yellow brushwork he stenciled the names of states with “Colorado” repeated in several locations thereby reinforcing the non-map properties of the painting.

Gregory Beauchamp - States United - installed

Gregory Beauchamp. States United (2011). Silk screen, 63 x 50 cm.

The inspiration for this heart-shaped image came from then-Senator Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, as the 44th President of the United States, on the night of November 4th, 2008, in Chicago’s Grant Park. Obama’s statement that “we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be the United States of America” moved the artist to rearrange all fifty states into the shape of the Heartland.

After completing this work, Gregory Beauchamp sent an open letter on the internet to President Obama describing this image:

the way i see it, it’s time for some heart. the fix to the problems begins by fixing ourselves. we need an approach of hope, not fear. we need not imagine the lines that divide us, but the loves that unify us to see ourselves as part of a whole. to see that we don’t just live in the united states of america, we are the united states of america. or maybe a better way to put it, we are the “states united of america.”