Topographies: A Book Arts Exhibition
Guest Curator: Karen Weeks
APRIL 6 – JUNE 29, 2019
Reception & Artist Talk: April 13th 12-4 pm; Curator Talk starts at 2pm; free & open to the public
“Topographies” points to both the land represented in the maps on display and the surfaces from which the images were printed. The historic printing techniques used in the creation of the maps in this exhibition range from hand carved woodcut to copper engraving to photomechanically produced cuts, revealing a timeline of technological developments. The images themselves reflect the advancements made in land surveying, the accumulation of knowledge about the places depicted, and the increased sophistication in rendering and printing capabilities. From German cartographer Sebastian Munster’s first map of the Americas (1544) to John Filson’s first map of Kentucky (1784), our present-day Louisville emerges, becoming an increasingly distinct and defined place. These maps demonstrate the passing of time, the creation of political borders, and changes to the lands depicted.
Most of these maps and the tools used to render them in print are on loan to the museum from local bronze sculptor Raymond Graf’s extensive private collection. Being particularly interested in maps of Louisville, Graf’s collection contains many maps of the Portland neighborhood, as well as Kentucky – from its initial designation as part of the “western territory” to becoming an established state.
Collecting has been a part of Raymond Graf’s life ever since he was a small child growing up as an Army brat on Fort Knox. At that point, arrowheads, insects, and of course turtles – he had 26 at one time – were the objects of his desire. After art school in Murray, Kentucky, where one of his favorite classes was printmaking, he soon fell for the world of maps. With their unique combination of art, history, and science, they now seem to be the perfect thing to focus on, and so it has been for the past 25 years. Being a Louisvillian, now for a good part of his life, has definitely influenced his collecting direction with maps of Kentucky and Louisville especially dominating the focus. Graf’s hope is that in sharing this selection of maps with you here at Portland Museum you get a glimpse of the cartographic gems available that reflect our town here at the Falls.
This exhibition and related programming is funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Louisville Metro Government. The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, provides operating support to Portland Museum with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.