Map Weavings

map study web.jpg
Township Out of Grass update.jpg
If I could walk the map web.jpg

Top left: map study, 2021. Freehand quilting and appliqué on doubleweave with cotton yarn, 23"x26".

When I returned to weaving in 2021, I was eager to learn new structures and to continue to make weavings that consider distance. I was also curious about why the Midwestern landscape is divided into such a perfect grid: I learned that as the early United States appropriated more land, the government hired contract land surveyors to map the territory and divide the land into townships, made up of 36 640 acre squares each. Early settlers could receive a quarter section, or 640 acres, of land for free or at a very low cost if they promised to "improve" it through farming, which eventually led to the eradication of the majority of the tallgrass prairie.

 

This work emulates a satellite map of the prairie region, with property lines creating the different colored squares. Each square's edge is a half mile on the ground, and I attempted to weave at the rate I would walk the same distance, retracing the same lines the land surveyors once walked.

 

Bottom left: Township Study, 2022. Cotton warp, cotton and prairie grass weft, 23"x15".

Before I wove Furrow, I wove a sampler using the township overshot pattern. This weaving was the most successful—the prairie grass is both making the township and trapped within it, mirroring how the prairie ecosystem and the rich soil it created both made white settlers value the land, but not the prairie itself.

 

Right: If I could walk the map, 2021. Doubleweave with cotton yarn, 96"x28".

This weaving is the width of my stride length, and is meant to resemble a satellite map. Each square is 1⁄2 mile, and I attempted to weave at the rate I would walk if I was on the ground the map represents as I did with map study.