71 Square Miles, a map made of trash at BRIC Arts Center. Photo by Jason Wych
Last December, Untapped Cities visited Jennifer Maravillas in the process of creating 71 Square Miles, a 10 x 10 foot map of Brooklyn made of trash that she picked up while walking every single block of the massive borough.
Now, after three years of work, she has finished the map, and it is on display at BRIC Arts Center as part of the Mapping Brooklyn Exhibit. The show opened February 25th and closes May 3rd.
Photo by Abigail B. Clark
The concept of the exhibit, which is also at the Brooklyn Historical Society, was to pair contemporary cartographic artwork with historic maps from the Historical Society’s immense archive. The librarian at the Historical Society took each artist through the archive to help them choose a historical map that would be interesting juxtaposed with their work.
Maravillas chose BRIC to debut her map because she likes its strong emphasis on community. It’s open to the public six days a week, programs Brooklyn’s public access channel, and has media education classes. “BRIC’s mission is to provide access,” said Elizabeth Ferrer, curator of the exhibit.
When we asked Jen what she hoped people got out of the map she said, “I hope people see it as something we all made together. Because it is. I just sort of organized it. I hope it’s a way for people to connect and feel like part of a community. Brooklyn is huge and it doesn’t always feel that way.”
Ferrer weighed in: “We’re going through a lot of gentrification in here and part of Jenn’s work is about the diversity of Brooklyn, and I see people looking at it for a long time. Jen’s map speaks to people in an emotional way.”
Maravillas plans to complete maps of all of the other boroughs and estimates it may take her up to ten years. But this time around, there’s a twist:
She’s formally inviting people to walk with her. She wants people to give her tours of their neighborhoods—to see their perceptions of their own small parts of New York City. If you’re interested in walking with Jen, or showing her around your neighborhood contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org (that’s the amount she has left to walk!) She’s really nice and fun, we promise!
Check out photos of the trash map in progress last year and read about another community mapping project, Mapping Manhattan: A Love and Hate Story by 75 New Yorkers.