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  • Writer's picturesarah krier

The Secret Language of Maps: Pushing the boundaries of empathetic visual communication part 1

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Maps are one way we “tie it all together,” expose the invisible, amplify the observable and, inevitably, add the influence of our own perspective. Most importantly, maps are a form of synthesis so that all of these may be observed in relationship to one another, by others, even when we are not there to explain.

- Excerpt provided by assignment prompt, written and taught by Trudy Watt

The Prompt

Create two maps that represent the shared experiences and ancestral history of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus - one from the experience of a randomly assigned entity, and one from your own.

Mapping My Campus Experience

This visual represents my own experience at the university - interlaced with the university's evolving history that has been deeply entwined with both the Ho-Chunk nation's history and living reality.

In the image below, I map my emotional experiences across campus through undergrad and grad school, anchored in bright-red school pride. As a student, my experiences on campus were a time of questioning, confusion, and pain, but also of growth. Whether by design or happenstance, my experience walking along sacred ground, and education anchored in Native American teachings through teh Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies opened the door for exploration that dramatically changed my perception of the ground I walked on.

I didn't know it at the time, but in pursuing my hodge-podge assortment of degrees and certificates I was positioning myself for a multilayered experience that would come full circle in my graduate program - evident in assignments and courses much like the one described here.

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