I see mapping as the most direct route in remembering. Drawing a map is a way of cataloguing people, places and events and a chance to reflect on the past, the present and the future. Maps have always been used to navigate a space, but it is much more than that. A map contains information about the time it was made and the people who made it. With the advent of satellites, maps have become even more accurate, giving us information about an area in real time. We are able to travel anywhere with the help of the internet and GPS units. Because of a maps acceptance as a reputable source of information I chose it as a way of recording my own life and the experiences that I have had by creating maps of my hometown.
In the 1940s, a government mission titled the Manhattan Project was developed to create the first atomic bomb. The following three sites were established to help in this endeavor: Los Alamos in New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and my hometown of Richland, Washington. These three locations were pivotal in creating the first atomic weapons that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Richland-Hanford area was the primary spot for uranium and plutonium refinement. Early on, the town of Richland revolved around the work conducted at Hanford. The post-Cold War Richland-Hanford area, in which I was raised, had become a giant environmental cleanup due to the residual hazardous chemicals left behind from the refinement process. As a child I assumed this situation was normal. It was not until years later when I moved away from Richland that I began to understand how different it really was.
Using graphite drawing, I map the relationship between myself and my hometown of Richland, Washington. I am interested in the history of my birthplace and the role my town has played in the production of atomic weapons. As I grew up I created my own personal narrative under its shadow. The maps I create explore the interwoven relationship between my personal history and the greater past of my home. Through my work I deepen my understanding of the larger implications of how Richland has shaped who I have become.
I draw maps because they allow me to remember. With graphite I have the freedom to make mistakes. I remember something and mark it, or I erase a spot I realize was wrong. Erasing something does not mean the mark is totally gone, there will always be a trace left of graphite on the paper. I appreciate this ability of drawing and the worked surface of the paper as I add and subtract layers. I think of drawing as inserting myself into the work. I want the audience to see my hand and the process it took to create a piece. In the same way that Richland has an accepted history, marked with personal stories, the maps I create are structured documents imbued with my personal influence. It is in this way that I approach my work, remembering events, drawing and mapping them out.