BELFAST, Maine — “The Art of Mapping” will open 5-8 p.m. Friday Oct. 21, at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, 97 Main St. The art exhibit will be on display through Nov. 30.
Maps are an interactive media with an aesthetic quality all their own. While existing first and foremost to display essential information about our surroundings, maps have always fascinated people. Maps are like portals into unknown lands — they speak of many possible journeys and destinations, both real and imaginary.
Maps can also tell stories about the land they describe, its history, its inhabitants and its use. In this show, Maine Farmland Trust Gallery wants to draw attention to the art and aesthetics of map-making while at the same time using the rich visual language of maps to tell some interesting land-related stories.
One of the trust’s staff members, Sarah Hart, has used the exhibit to showcase recent data with computer-generated, geospatial analysis maps. One map shows an analysis of developed farmland soil (it shows where in Maine houses have been built where crops could have been grown), while another map is a visual display of one of Maine Farmland Trust’s Buy/Protect/Sell projects. Visitors to the show also will see a statewide farmland soils map which shows where in Maine the best farmland soils can be found.
The hand-drafted permaculture designs by Jesse Watson are both functional and luscious, full of the anticipatory joy of creating abundant, edible landscapes hand-in-hand with nature. These maps reflect a process, already imagined and waiting to take root.
Anna Abaldo, artist and gallery coordinator at Maine Farmland Trust, takes the cartographer’s art of mapping and turns maps into art. Using mixed media on top of geospatial maps, she blends the story, crops or habitat of a few specific Maine farms into their aerial landscape. The result is a collection of altered maps revealing (or concealing) the relationship between the land and its inhabitants in its many layers and textures. This is not unlike the layers of soil and sediment that make up the actual history and texture of our living and working landscape.
For more information, call the Maine Farmland Trust at 338-6575.