My first assignment in a Women Studies class this term was to draw a map of the world without looking at one. Here is how it turned out:
After a very hectic day, I welcomed the idea of grabbing a big paper and some crayons and getting my brain into drawing mode. I knew it would be hard to be detailed with names and border lines of countries and really, "who cares about that stuff..... well, obviously, but what is important?" I asked myself. So I of course started with what is most familiar and drew the North, Central and South American continents. Then came blue crayons for the Arctic up top and then I couldn't remember if it was called the Arctic or Antarctica, so I made the one on the bottom the South Pole, which is older than the North Pole because I saw that on a animation of how the plates and continents have changes in millions of years. So then I started the other half of the world that I knew I was going to screw up, but I remember Africa's shape. It is familiar, it is "Origins," I call it, where we all started walking on 2 legs.... I couldn't remember the formation that New Zealand has but I knew it was off over in the corner above Australia and then, while we are on islands, lets put Greenland up there and start on Europe which I know I butchered as well. Russia, India, the middle east, and where is the Dead Sea? I was just looking at a close up map of this area where Israel and Lebanon and Iran and other Arab countries are in a state of perpetual war, religious extremists, lots of sand.... The beaches were incredible! Oh and the Himalayas!! The Buddhists! China who is invading and taking everything, it will be so interesting when they meet head to head with the Russians. Better not forget Japan, home of the Pokemon.
Then I started going and labeling places according to what I know about them from earth science classes, movies, news and where we live now and where I was born. In N. America we have grizzly bears and Sarah Palin in Alaska, a gold rush trail into the Cascade Mountains, the Rockies, the Great Lakes, the Appalachian Mountains. Lake Okeechobee in FL, a Pirate ship in the Caribbean. I drew trees for the rain forests in South America and mentioned it was only what is left of them, acknowledging their destruction, the Andes Mountains, so magical, another possible Origin of Man. On Africa I drew pyramids and pointed to S. Africa for having white people in power. Europe, I circled for it's Universal health care and population of midwives, a smiley face because Denmark and Holland are reported to be the happiest places on the planet. I know there is great strife for the queer community in Russia so I wrote, "No Gays Allowed" up there. China, where everything is "made in" and I drew a big red war circle around most of Africa, China, Russia, The Middle East and Japan. (I just realized I forgot Korea entirely) Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand so I pointed that out and the Great Barrier reef off the east coast of Australia even though I am not sure if that is where that is, but it has it's own clown fish named Nemo there. RIP Steve Irwin, I loved him. I also labeled Kangaroos, Koalas and deadly spiders and fish, (along with so many other things), in Australia.
This was fun because even though I don't know names and boundaries, I could still picture some of the landscape and what kinds of cultures are places. I didn't have the room or artistic abilities to draw the Gods of European Druids, African Tribal villages, Indian women with bright fabrics and shiny Models of multi-armed, elephant headed goddess, Temples, Cathedrals, Ghettos and slums, hut villages in Haiti, the markets in Peru, the wall in Palestine, the wars, refugees, famine, diseases, love, learning, sharing, art.... The world as I know it is sooooooo vast, I couldn't hardly create an image in 2D on paper.