Grant McEwan, 1992, diploma
Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Vancouver, 1997, diploma
Winsor Gallery, Vancouver, BC
map-based, cartography, zoology, myth
cartography of myth
Using maps, artifacts of human endeavour, allows me to reveal the ambivalences and struggles at the heart of our cohabitation with the natural world and to engage with our efforts to devise an empirical grid to interpret/represent the land, to impose a measure of order onto an otherwise-organized natural world.
The dendritic process that leads me from one painting to the next is mostly inspired by the old charts and abandoned objects I come across as well as the challenges I encounter in the act of painting a given piece. This process allows me a broader exploration of the themes of migration, encroachment, ecological decay and extirpation. I am interested in the obfuscating of the map or chart, in the visual reciprocity and tension at play between the zoological images emerging from the map and the map itself, and ultimately in arriving at a form of interspecies counter-mapping. This “response” mapping asks a number of questions, one of which could be, if sandhill cranes could make a map, what might it look like?
The content of my work is deeply inspired and informed by the natural sciences. The pieces and their animal elements find their aesthetic roots in the long-standing tradition of wildlife art: past naturalist–artists like John James Audubon and James Fenwick Lansdowne, naturalist–explorer Friedrich von Humboldt, and contemporary artists like Jonathan Kingdon and Walton Ford, all of whom apprehend the natural world’s biodiversity through illustration. The narratives in my pieces also find foundation in the written work of people like ethnobotanist Wade Davis and wildlife ecologist Aldo Leopold. The work takes a scientific, cartographic tradition as its starting point — the paintings being intrinsically melded with a map — but employs a variety of media — from collage to water color, gouache and oil— to create a form of counter cartography.
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