Artist Shannon Christine Rankin works with maps to depict new, reimagined, and ever-changing geographies.
Roswell, NM | shannonchristinerankin.com | @shannonchristinerankin
The Earth often feels entirely quantified; as if everything is laid out neatly and named. But of course, maps are surprisingly inaccurate. The relative size of things, even the fact that most of South America is east of Florida, are often eschewed in our own mental maps. And then, of course, there are the borders that shift, the rivers and glaciers slowly moving, and in our own neighborhoods, the “desire trails” created across a patch of grass trod by too many pedestrians, the nameless but familiar alleys that never shore up in any atlas.
Shannon Christine Rankin works with maps and their vernacular to orient us anew to the world and its most enduring quality: change. In series like Earth Embroideries, she transcribes melting ice sheets in Antarctica via satellite imaging into minimal depictions with thread on paper, literally confronting our attempt to hold on to (and hold in our hands) what we can, even as the environment around us shifts, both challenging and sentimentalizing the act of map-making.
With change inevitably comes fragility. Nothing lasts, old things fade away. Rubbings created from uneven topographies in charcoal create gulfs on paper; nautical charts lose their bearings in collages created as laments for polar ice sheets. By splicing, scaling up and down, and reimagining the structure we put to place, we are called to look closer and closer. To ask: what is that most familiar terrain beneath your feet and in your mind? The sandstone and shale on this swath of land are here because this was once a shallow sea, but there’s a new geography now. Throughout Rankin’s work, these new geographies are multiplied, layered, and complicated by perception, experience, and the sense of aliveness inherent in change.