Test Piece #collage

Collage by Jean Vengua
“CA-AZ Line.” Acrylics and collage on Khadi paper. 8 x 8″

This is a test piece for a larger work. I ripped a fragment from an old CA/NV/AZ map and used it here. But then, looking at the map (which I bought at a yard sale), with its olive green, pink, and red lines more closely, I felt a bit of regret about cutting a piece out of it. I hadn’t looked closely at the map when I bought it, but it’s an old Texaco “touring map,” circa 1948, with a route penciled in from Stockton to San Fernando, with “Fresno” and “Tulare” circled. Bits of mid-century advice dot the map: “Watch for them!” over an illustration of a bicyclist; “Diamond shaped highway signs always indicate danger to you”; “Give [hand] signals before you begin to change direction” (cartoon of hand signaling out the driver’s window); and an illustration of an overturned turtle above “Please turn the map over!” Over all, the big red “T” for Texaco on a red star. I know the map was from an ex-military owner (I also bought a Tuskegee airmen pamphlet at the sale), and perhaps this  represented a happy post-war trip. Who knows. . .  But it’s a snapshot in time, when beautiful Glen Canyon, on the Colorado River, was still running free, its ancient petroglyphs and pictographs still visible above the water line, and neither the infamous and disputed Glen Canyon dam nor Lake Powell existed. Unexpectedly, the test piece also got me thinking about the lines we draw to contain and/or separate, and to map and claim; the seemingly arbitrary shapes and lines that declare a state or territory, and their effects on local life and culture.