Emily Garfield creates intricate maps of imaginary places that explore the origins of cities and the function of maps themselves. She received her BA in Visual Arts from Brown University, where she also pursued studies in the brain’s response to art and aesthetic beauty through the Cognitive Science department. She has participated in exhibitions throughout the greater Boston area as well as New York and Philadelphia. Her work is in the collection of the Kamm Teapot Foundation as well as numerous private collections.
My intricate pen and watercolor drawings are inspired by the visual language of maps, as well as the fractal similarity that cities share with biological processes such as the patterns of cells and neurons. I invent each place as I draw, thinking about clustering of neighborhoods, patterns of roads and the individual selective memory that an inhabitant would use to navigate their city. The physical materials also influence each work; the topography of watercolor paper, the force of gravity on ink, or the tensile limitations of paper all structure my drawings in the same way that a landscape influences urban growth.
Each popup is one strip of paper, cut and folded into an intersection of two different city scenes. Although the project began in Providence, the imagery is always inescapably that of New York City, where I grew up. These are rooftops from my window, buildings from my walk to school and random arrays of lit windows seen from midnight cab rides home. The popups are a discourse between imagination and the physicality of the paper. Each one takes many hours to draw, cut and fold, slowly creating an ethereal city from aching hands and mounds and mounds of tiny windows.