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Austin Museum of Art Presents Lordy Rodriguez: States of America
Lordy Rodriguez, America, 2002, Ink on paper, 23 x 39 inches. Courtesy of artist and Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco and New York

AUSTIN, TX.- The Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) presents Lordy Rodriguez: States of America. Rodriguez’s decade-long project reconfigures the 50 states and explores the addition of five new “states” — Hollywood, Internet, Monopoly, Territory and Disney — that newly define our perceived geographic version.

Born in 1976 in Quezon City, Manila, Philippines and moving to the United States at an early age, Rodriguez grew up primarily in Louisiana and Texas, often traveling with his family across the country. Inspired by his study of maps on these trips, Rodriguez now reconfigures existing maps, creating imaginary compositions that are at once distinctly familiar and candidly absurd. These meticulous ink-on-paper maps depict elaborate, imagined geographies populated with misplaced cities and fictive landmarks.

“Rodriguez is fascinated by cartography and takes it to the extreme,” said exhibition curator Eva Buttacavoli. “This project shows both his dexterity and growth over the ten-year time span of this project, and like charting a road trip, reflects upon changing memories, perceptions and new directions in his growth as an artist.”

Based upon highly personalized decisions and careful research, each map relates to the artist’s own experience of America and its history. At quick glance however, Rodriguez’s work could be mistaken for any other map that you may have seen in grade school. Upon closer examination, viewers begin to discover anomalies and peculiar juxtapositions. Accordingly, Rodriguez has cut the District of Columbia in two and distributed it between the “states” of Hollywood and Monopoly, symbolically locating our nation’s capital and its political power somewhere in between the influence of the entertainment industry and corporate America.

Commenting on the nature of his work, Rodriguez said, “The question of reality and the different interpretations of what is ‘real’ are contained in the map.”

By choosing to draw maps, Rodriguez explores formal relationships and semi abstraction without worrying about the representation of depth. His firm shapes and bright, translucent colors decorate the surfaces of his maps with playful, captivating patterns. While maps often assume an unquestionable authority of accuracy and fact, Rodriguez dismantles conventional notions of locale and geography through intuitive associations and personal narratives. These vivid narratives conjure up the viewer’s own memories and perhaps compel one to ask whether the United States truly look like those that we used to envision.

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