Narrative of Place

18 x 12 inches /// letterpress print, graphite, thread on reclaimed paper

These maps are a visual result of some narrative research I collected from two community members of Athens, Ohio. Each person was asked these questions: What places or areas of Athens do you feel make up this place? What parts or places do you visit the most or find to be of great importance to your life? Are there any stories that you can recall that help you describe why these come to mind?

In an effort to keep the conversation more informal, I encouraged the questions as a beginning way to have dialogue and not to be thought of as a formal interview. I wanted the individuals to feel comfortable. This was an effective approach to this research because it kept our time together personal and enabled the speaker to discuss memories and moments that may have not been recollected in some time.

Each story was recorded and then transcribed. I told the stories through poetry. They were also asked to choose a color that they felt represented Athens. This color became the thread that made up their paths to their places or areas that were mentioned.

The scale of the actual Athens landscape depended on the story and what seemed to be of most importance to each individual. The map with the red thread was mine. Downtown Athens is micro compared to the other maps as I spend most of my time connected to that area. The blue thread map was from a man who grew up here. He is now 42 and Athens, in his story, was all about the river and lakes. He was the water. The green thread map was a woman who started one of the local businesses here. She also has been one of the people who have had a direct influence on shaping the Athens culture.

The objective to this project is to capture several different individual narratives of the Athens community. As an ongoing project connected to my thesis, I will be collecting the narratives of students—particulary international. I want to also explore the child’s view of this place. Collecting a variety of narratives will provide a variety of visual maps that represent different experiences of the same place—revealing connections and disconnections.