Alternative Maps series:
Map 1, Cyanotypes on paper, 20" x 27"
Watershed Globe, cast plaster, 34" x 12" x 12"
Projections 1793-2019, Video, 2:42
Maps and ecosystems share two crucial variables: place and time. The multilayered images in the Watershed Globe project present a passage through maps of the same location on the Ohio River from 1793 to 2019. Two-dimensional cyanotypes on paper, a sculptural globe, and an animation explore changes in the river’s mapped representations over time. The Ohio is the second-largest river in the United States, and has been a popular trading route and life source for thousands of years. This region was the launching point for Lewis and Clark and many others on Westward expeditions, as well as a social boundary between the Northern and Southern United States and significant crossing for those escaping slavery via the Underground Railroad.
Maps in the Watershed Globe were created by those in power–from European settlers to Google Maps developers. Human interventions through locks, dams, and industry continue to alter ecosystems. Maps reflect not only physical changes, but also shifts in perceptions and priorities of each mapmaker—including environmental concerns and values. In the first early American maps, creeks and streams are individually mapped, then replaced by railroads, roads, and highways. In the process of re-drawing these maps, I selected elements by which people traveled and interacted with the landscape, using the Ohio River as an equator. In globe form, this map wraps East and West together in a continuous loop. The Watershed Globe is a 12” diameter cast plaster sphere created with centuries-old globemaking techniques and digital software to translate map drawings to three dimensions. Like all globes, it is out-of-date almost as soon as it is produced, documenting a momentary view into the river as ever-shifting social and ecological force.