Festival of Personal Geographies

“Festival of Personal Geographies” explores how art can be used to create personalized maps. The festival includes an exhibition (to be scheduled at Design on Main Gallery in Ames, IA) and four workshops held in Ames, IA. These workshops will teach various ways of creating personal maps using computer programming, robotics, sound mapping, and mindful walking. Both the exhibition and the workshops will be free and open to the public. The festival aims to provide participants with novel ways of creating maps, and with new venues for creative involvement in their community and surroundings.

Index to a Place

The exhibition, titled “Index to a Place” will be shown at Design on Main gallery, Feb. 12th through March 19th, 2019. A reception will be held on Friday, Feb. 15th, from 6 to 8pm. The exhibition includes 8 artists: Alex Braidwood, Diana Behl, Tiberiu Chelcea, Sage Dawson, Kristen Greteman, Mary Jones, Catherine Reinhart, and Amenda Tate. These artists use mapping conventions to talk about the passage of time, and to examine the essence of places seen, overlooked, or imagined. All artists combine historic and contemporary printmaking and drawing methods in unconventional ways in their works. The media represented in the exhibition are screenprinting, collagraph, intaglio, photopolymer intaglio, relief, digital, robot-aided drawings, and photography.

The graphic language of mapping, as used by these artists, is symbolically and visually rich. Their maps present themselves as puzzles to solve, and provide means of finding one’s way through complex information. These artists distill information data into patterns and textures that are engaging to the eye while creating new meanings; the viewers, by decoding the visual vocabulary of their maps, are delving into the imagination of the mapmaker.

Manibus participatory dance-painting happening

Amenda Tate, an interdisciplinary artist based in Des Moines, will present a workshop (Feb. 16th, from 2 to 5pm at Design on Main, 203 Main St. Ames) based on her Manibus project. Manibus is the name given to a movement-controlled wireless painting robot designed to translate the motion, movement, and the dynamic emotion of dance into a painting. The workshop is a participatory event where individuals can come together and take turns wearing a motion-sensing control device for her Manibus robotic painting tool to create a collaborative community painting which will then be displayed as part of the exhibition.


In this workshop (Feb. 23rd, 1-3pm, at Design on Main, 205 Main St. Ames), conducted by Mary Jones, participants will identify personal markers in a specific community (most likely Ames) and map them in a path or story. Individual maps will be created as well as a scatter graph map for the group as a way of better understanding how a sense of belonging develops. No artistic skills or supplies required. An introduction and some brief, non-required reading will be distributed in advance to those who pre-register for the workshop. The workshop is limited to 12 participants.

Bureau of Infrastructure Tourism Listening Bus Tour

Alex Braidwood, assistant professor in the College of Design at Iowa State University, will present a tour of Ames infrastructure, organized by his own “Bureau of Infrastructure Tourism” (March 9th, at 1pm, meeting at Design on Main, 205 Main St. Ames). BIT is an organization that develops tours and documentation of various infrastructure features from around the world. These elements of the built environment often go unnoticed or ignored. Many are commonly considered to be non-places. Tours allow participants to document their experiences in these overlooked parts of town, so that these spaces become part of new city mental maps for participants. As part of the tour, participants will walk and visit several infrastructure—heavy parts of Ames. Pre-registration for the workshop is necessary, since seats on the touring bus are limited. If there is sufficient interest, a second tour can take place at 3pm, same day.

Mapping with Leaflet.js

Tiberiu Chelcea will present a workshop about using Leaflet.js to create online personalized maps (March 17th, 1-4pm, at Little Woods, 136 Main Street, Ames). Leaflet is a leading open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps, working efficiently across all major desktop and mobile platforms. In this workshop, the participants will learn how to create a personalized map by inserting custom photos on a map, linking them to places on the map through clickable markers, and interacting with this custom map in a browser. Pre-registration for the workshop is necessary. The workshop is limited to 8 participants.