paint

Maps, Landscapes, and your Bossy Brain by Kerri McGill

The Map became a key player in my life last year. I traveled to the opposite side of the world and back and even at home, my jobs and living spaces changed frequently. The image I spend most of my time examining is not a masterpiece with a complex and subtle brush strokes..It is a simple graph overlaid with flat color and unwavering line quality.

I've never experienced such colossal space as in Patagonia. Any sense of space, scale or time is usurped by a landscape that reinvents itself at every turn. Mountains, glaciers, cliffs, tundras, waterfalls, forests appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly like ghosts...


In Buenos Aires, I cling to maps. On the bus I watch for landmarks, memorize street names and count the jogs in the grid which deviate into webs of confusion.

They say memory is an emotional process...
In my fear of traveling without grasp of language, the map became life guidance, the one sure thing to guide me through the confusion of the city and navigate my personal turmoil. The grid holds strong.


A year of constant motion and map gazing begs the question –

How do I convey space, time and the effects our environment has on us? 
How has my past affected how I view the new environments I find myself in?

One of the fundamental functions of our brain is mapping our location: where we came from, where we are, and how many ways there are to get to the next place. Another key action, our brains continually search for familiar patterns, even in the middle of the unknown.  Actually, our brains are not great at taking in new information. They much prefer to imprint expectations based on past knowledge.  The brain tries very hard to transform new things into what is familiar.

Maybe this lends to the magic in Patagonia..
I had nothing to compare it to. I was in continual awe. 

My life in New England created an internal map that is my basis for organizing and understanding any other Space I inhabit...even if it is completely different. 



I am in search of a visual vocabulary. These new works use the map as a starting point and play with the idea of how we use past knowledge to organize what lies before us.

Work from Buenos Aires Art Residency by Kerri McGill

LPEP Art Residency

Buenos Aires is a powerful and passionate city. The layers of history weave a fabric of paradox as each generation past speaks as loudly as the bands playing the street corner today. European architecture and statues loom by contemporary street art. Tango and intricate sign painting are unique to the city. Music from protest chants to carnival drums fills all corners. I live by the tattered scraps of map in my pocket.

How will I make a sincere body of work about such a massive and complex place in only a few weeks? 

I pull materials from the street to talk about those very streets: plaster, cardboard, paint, billboard advertisements...

I lay down an image, cover it with plaster and a second image.  I break through the first.. It’s a physically literal extension of the potent layers of BA

Each piece is a humble response to the different realities in the evolving landscape of the labyrinth that is BA.I sample protest chanting, drumming, Carnival bands, and the president’s address.  This becomes the soundscape for the show.

Because of size and mixed media such as plaster, many works staid behind. The piece exhibited here was sliced into pieces for traveling.  The disjointed pieces lend a sense of distress and disjointedness appropriate for the theme.

There is a heartbreak in leaving my artwork behind. The loss becomes a conceptual layer…As it comes from the city streets to speak about the city, so too may it return to the streets.

As I held on so tightly to a little ripped gray map with one hand,
I had to let go of my own artwork with the other.