Art Junction—Featured Article

The Community Maps Project
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Outcomes of the Project

While the results of this project are seen in the maps produced by participants, the real benefits of this endeavor lie in the experience gained by university art students and younger students during the collaborative creative process. In implementing this project, we had two major goals. One was to provide a framework for a community outreach program within the University of Florida’s School of Art and Art History. Another was to offer university art students an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of younger students. Over the three years of the project, we were been highly successful in achieving both of these goals.

For many of the university art students involved in the project, mentoring young artists has had a profound impact on their attitudes about art and their roles as artists or designers. As one art student wrote, “I really enjoyed working with the kids. They were inspiring to me and affected me in a positive way. This project opened my eyes to the possibilities of art as a means to affect positive change.”

The name art buddies came to represent the relationship that developed between the participants during the creation of the collaborative maps. Another art student wrote, “Meg and I discovered we had a lot of places in common, so it was exciting to draw them. This project not only brought our places together, it brought each of us together.”

In selecting the younger students for the project, art teachers at the participating schools were asked to choose children “who would best benefit from an extended relationship with an older student.” This led to a range of young participants including some considered “at risk” and others thought to show “talent” in art.

For these young artists, the project afforded the opportunity to relate their school activities to their lives outside the classroom as well as to enhance their knowledge of their community. More importantly, it gave them the chance to garner adult respect and approval for their ideas. Through the process of working collaboratively with older art students these youngsters learned that their ideas and experiences have value. Such knowledge is empowering.

This paper was presented at the 1999 National Art Education Association Conference in Washington D.C. and published in Trends, Journal of the Texas Art Education Association, Spring 2000, 24-25.


For more information and ideas on maps and map-making with children, see the following resources:

How to Lie With Maps by Mark Monmonier, Chicago: IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Mapmaking with Children: Sense-of-Place Education for the Elementary Years by David Sobel, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1998.

My Map Book by Sara Fanelli, New York: NY: Harper Collins, 1995.

The Lure of the Local by Lucy Lippard, New York: NY: New Press, 1997.

The Power of Maps by Denis Wood, New York: NY: Guilford Press, 1992.

Cartography Links on Yahoo!

Cultural Maps

Harvard Map Collection

The History of Mapmaking

National Geographic Map Machine

Panoramic Maps Collection (Library of Congress)

U.S. Geological Survey Home Page (w/ lesson plans)

Check out the Art Junction Gallery for more maps. Also, see six contemporary artists who work with maps and mapping techniques.

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