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61 - United Shapes of America

January 10, 2007, 7:34 AM

This canvas by artist Kim Dingle doesn’t look like a map, more like a herd of cows. But actually it’s a collection of maps. The artist asked teen-aged school kids in Las Vegas to draw their country in the shape they thought it had. It’s one of the strange maps in a book called ‘You Are Here’, which… collects unconventional maps. I hadn’t heard of that book before, but needless to say, I immediately ordered it. I found it on this page, somewhere on the site of the Carnegie Mellon University.

Some remarks:

  • Florida is represented in some way on more or less every map, the protrusions of Texas and New England are less common. Probably because Florida’s is a physical limit to the US, while the borders of Texas and New England are political (and don’t show up on a satellite map, for instance).
  • The indentation in the US’s northern border made by the Great Lakes is missing in almost all drawings.
  • So are Alaska and Hawaii – but maybe the kids were only asked to draw the 48 contiguous states.
  • Many do manage to get Texas‘s southern protrusion, but some also add an extension in the west, which in all probability is the peninsula of Baja California – Mexican and therefore non-US, but unmissable on any map as it’s a huge geographic feature.
  • A few manage to get the bulging of the US West Coast, but many draw a straight line there; in fact, a lot of these drawings resemble not much more than box-shapes.

unitedshapes3.jpg

 

61 - United Shapes of America

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