It was while studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York that The Map as Art artist Lordy Rodriguez first started to explore themes of identity and place.
"When I moved to New York for undergraduate school that’s when I really started to see myself as an outsider in all the identities I've associated myself with," says Rodriquez. "I couldn't fully become a Texan because I was also Filipino and Louisianan at the same time. I didn't get that till I moved to New York. Someone would always constantly ask me where I was from and I had a hard time answering that question."
Growing up in the South, Rodriguez criss-crossed the country traveling with his family, taking in what it means to be American. His fascination with cartography can be traced back to these adventures in his formative years.
More recently he has pushed the iconography of mapmaking further into abstraction. Many of these works omit all text, so that the map loses its utility and the void is filled by the viewer's own biases and experiences.
When asked by The Map as Art co-curator and Kemper Museum Director Barbara O'Brien about his continued development and personal introspection, Rodriguez says he has yet to define himself and his place although his earlier works were an exercise in that exploration. About his recent abstract works he says, "I have a better understanding of myself or a better understanding of how I react to things. Now I'm at a point where I'm trying to understand by environment a little bit more."
The Map as Art exhibition is on view now through April 21 at the Kemper Museum.
Produced in collaboration with KCUR 89.3 FM, Kemper ARTcasts is the Kemper Museum's podcast series. This project brings the voices and insights of artists, as well as community and curatorial voices, to a broad range of listeners.