Art + Maps

Works by four local and regional artists are exhibited with items from the Map Library collection. Corresponding maps range from antique maps to aerial photographs; celestial charts to contemporary expressions of map design. Several attributes particular to maps, such as decorative borders, cartouches, and directional signs are displayed.

Exhibit now through December 12, 2014.  Reception with the artists, June 19th, 3-5 pm


– Enhanced remote-sensing images by Karl Mueller, CU-Boulder Geological Sciences Department

These images reflect my long time interest in digital topography, first for a scientific need to visualize the surface of the Earth and secondly, for purely artistic reasons.  Many of these images mimic objects such as trees, wrinkled fabric or other textiles.  My favorite aspect is their similarity to certain types of modern art. The images are made by processing digital elevation data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission that scanned the Earth’s surface in great detail from space.

Paki Sulaiman folds II

Paki Sulaiman folds II – by Karl Mueller, featured in the Art + Maps exhibit

– Quilts by Barbara Olson, Boulder fiber artist

My way of telling about my life is through cloth. I dye and paint it, cut it, reassemble it, and stitch it.  Then there are the beautiful threads I get to hand stitch with or to machine quilt with, adding another layer of design.  I love handling the cloth; cutting it, sewing it, even ironing it!  I urge the cloth to speak by creating an image, a mood, a visual language.


Water Trails (detail) – by Barbara Olson, featured in the Art + Maps exhibit

– Paintings by Alan Paine Radebaugh, New Mexico painter

These organic shapes, I see them in everything, the sky, the shadows, and the shadows from the clouds, the clouds themselves, the sides of mountains, and the dirt. They are there: looking into a streambed, the leaves, and the space between the leaves. These shapes that I relate to are absolutely everywhere.

Night Three - by Alan Paine Radebaugh

Night Three – by Alan Paine Radebaugh, featured in the Art + Maps exhibit

– Pen and watercolor works on paper by Michael Theodore, CU-Boulder College of Music, Theory and Composition Department

The works in the organism/mechanism series evoke cyclical phenomena through various means, obliquely referencing such things as chains of interlocked, orbiting celestial bodies, the growth cycles of stalagmites and stalactites, and even the spiraling construction of towers.

organism/mechanism viii

organism/mechanism viii – by Michael Theodore, featured in the Art + Maps exhibit


Some artists discover their creative voice within the parameters of documenting a survey, a geologic formation, even a neighboring planet. Early U.S. government surveyors, in exploratory or military missions, were often accompanied by artists who conveyed the wonders of freshly described landscapes through views and maps.

Even humble U.S. Geological Survey map-makers sometimes went beyond typical agency conventions to add shaded relief and coloration to topographic quadrangles.

The beauty of our Earth’s features is acknowledged by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth as Art webpage which highlights scenes “developed for their aesthetic beauty rather than for scientific value.”


Crater Lake Map

Panoramic View of the Crater Lake National Park, Oregon by John H. Renshawe, USGS, 1914

Natural forms and earth processes inform the work of these artists. The juxtaposition of art and maps highlights their formal similarities, yet also reveals elements and functions showing where the purposes of the two formats diverge.

Map of glaciers in Anarctica

Darwin Glacier Satellite Image Map, USGS 2001


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