Thursday, February 4, 2010

cultural geography

This afternoon, Joanna Close and I had a meeting with Cathy Conrad at St. Mary's University Geography Department, after being put in touch by Robin Metcalfe, the director at the university's gallery. Joanna and I are putting together a proposal for a two person exhibition of our work and Robin thought Cathy might be interested in our work and vice versa.

I had emailed Cathy before and today we were meeting to talk about our work (mine and Joanna's textile art projects/interests and Cathy's geography projects/interests) and to see where there was some overlap and potential for shared resources. It was great! Cathy's focus is on cultural geography, a subject I now want to learn more about: "the study of cultural products and norms and their variations across and relations to spaces and places. It focuses on describing and analyzing the ways language, religion, economy, government and other cultural phenomena vary or remain constant, from one place to another and on explaining how humans function spatially." - wikipedia . wow.

The Geography Department at St. Mary's University here in Halifax is the only university geography department in the province of Nova Scotia. Each person who works there has a slightly different focus to their work as Cathy explained to us. We met Greg Baker, described as their map resource guy - a map resource guy! They have two other colleagues whom we haven't met yet who focus on urban planning, statistics and more cultural geography. They all seem ready and willing to help us out with our exhibition by finding us the maps and information we need for our work.

Joanna and I are both exploring the mapping of changes in familiar geographies in our work and it's pretty cool to meet the people who make and chart the maps and information we are using in our "tool kit" of meaningful resource materials. Meeting people in a compelling field of study that is different from my own is refreshing. What I am surprised by are the parallels between my own interests /investigations in my artwork and the areas of study of the geography department. The subject of geography straddles the arts and the sciences - kinda like weaving.


  1. Rilla,
    I find this path you are on very interesting. I am currently studying Geographic Information Systems and therefore spend my days in a geography department very similar to the one you are describing. But I am also a weaver and really appreciate your art. I've often thought about weaving maps, but I see you've beaten me to it!
    I'm very interested to see where you take these new explorations.

  2. wow - that is so interesting Meara! I was thinking yesterday when I left the geography department that there might be another career in front of me....
    and you should try weaving some maps too!