Maps depicting mountain ranges, roads, lakes and rivers resemble internal biological features, reproductive anatomy, skeletal structures and networks of the human body. Symbols of cities become acupuncture points, and meridian lines, like rivers, represent an internal system of communication and transport.

Shannon Rankin

Shannon Rankin was born in California (1971) and grew up in Vermont. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Maine College of Art (1997). Today Rankin currently divides her time between Maine and New Mexico.

This artist creates installations, collages and sculptures that use the language of maps to explore the connections among geological and biological processes, patterns in nature, geometry and anatomy. But cutting, collaging, and folding are just a few of the techniques Rankin uses to explore the metaphoric potential of maps in her installations, 2D, and 3D works. Indeed there’s a three- dimensional quality to her work; each installation achieves its own topography.

These new geographies explore notions of place, perception and experience. In this way she invents a landscape in which examine our relationship with the world. Her landscape is created with a few lines, with simple geometrical compositions, symmetry and equilibrium. It’s seem like this language is opposite to the topographical irregularity of Earth’s surface.

Therefore those two different and opposite aspect find a compromise thank’s to distance. From a distance her work are perfect, relaxing composition, while the observer can see and appreciate the irregular pattern only getting close, immersing himself in the work.

Shannon Rankin, Germinate, 2010

S. Rankin, Germinate, 2010

Shannon Rankin, Germinate, detail, 2010

S. Rankin, Germinate, detail, 2010

Shannon Rankin, Frontier, 2010

S. Rankin, Frontier, 2010

Shannon Rankin, Convergence, 2010

S. Rankin, Convergence, 2010

Shannon Rankin, Convergence (dettaglio), 2010

S. Rankin, Convergence, detail, 2010

The meaning of map in Shannon Rankin’s work

In many ways this use of maps seems like a simple concept, but Shannon makes those connections between the land and the human form, and it all makes sense. The bird imagery, which is a recurring theme, reminds me of the connections migrating species have with the world – connections which we cannot understand as land dwellers.

The the bird imagery in Rankin's work

Shannon Rankin, Passage

Shannon Rankin, Migration 2

Shannon Rankin, Migration 2

Shannon Rankin, Migration 1

Shannon Rankin, Migration 1

Shannon Rankin, Star Birds


Rankin turns the maps she uses upside down to make them difficult to read. Though they don’t refer to specific places, sometimes she makes geological connections.

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