A pop-up community space will help tell the story of St. Louis and its people through original maps. “The St. Louis Map Room,” presented by COCA (Center of Creative Arts) in collaboration with Jer Thorp’s Office for Creative Research, will be housed in the Stevens School, which is located at 1033 Whittier St., St. Louis, MO, 63113.
Students, senior citizens, neighborhood representatives and others, will work together to create large-scale maps reflecting their experiences, which will be mounted in public displays.
“We’re interested in something beyond typical geography: not just factual dots marking places people go and the routes they take, but the unique perspective of St. Louis residents, their experience of being there, what makes their maps different from a typical city map, or from the map of others,” said Jer Thorp, the lead advisor/artist for The St. Louis Map Room and the founder of the New York City-based Office for Creative Research. “Mapping is a very subjective process, and the end result reflects the politics and experiences of the person making the map.”
Through April 9, the pop-up community space will be free and open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, noon-5 p.m.; and Thursdays 4-8 p.m. It will be closed on Mondays.
“If mapping is a source of power, people can claim power by making maps of their community that reflect them as they are, or that communicate what they’d like them to be,” said Thorp. “By surfacing diverse and underrepresented experiences of living in St. Louis, this project creates an opportunity for open and honest discussion that can become replicable in other cities facing similar challenges.”
Visitors can use maps to explore civic data. Through interactive projections, they can overlap community maps with census data, historic city-planning maps, live policing data, and more, to better understand the power of mapping.
“The COCA team is so proud to be a part of this project,” said Kelly Pollock, COCA Executive Director. “It provides an intersection for art, technology, and social justice to meet, and I’m certain the results will inspire conversations and action that will have a lasting impact on our city.”