France & Ewing in South Minneapolis

A recent feature in the University of Minnesota’s UMNews report documents Rebecca Krinke’s most recent public art creation. Krinke, an associate professor in landscape architecture, explores how memories and emotion become attached to specific spatial locations. In doing so she blurs the line between geography, sociology, urban studies, emotional exploration, and art.

The map has turned into a sociology experiment of sorts and a sounding board for people’s emotions: hope and despair, contentment and anger, love and hate.

Krinke began with a giant laser-cut map of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Beginning in late July, Krinke started taking the map to public spaces in Minneapolis and St. Paul and inviting passersby to use the colored pencil of their choice—gold for joy and gray for pain (or both)—to express their memories of places.

The map soon was filled with color – some representing memories of excitement and wonder, others representing tragedy and grief.

One man was sharing his tale of overdosing on heroin in Minneapolis when another chimed in and said, “Yeah, that happened to me, too,” Krinke says. “And they looked at each other like, ‘Well, we made it.’”

Fortunately, the map still radiates more than its share of good times and golden memories. Of fish caught in Minneapolis lakes. Of trails hiked and biked over and over again. Of sports venues old and new.

The overwhelming reaction to the piece has inspired Krinke to look for ways to continue, and expand, the project. It also points to some sort of underlying desire to make public emotions that rarely see the light of day.

As artists and designers, “there’s a lot of potential here,” she adds. “Maybe we’re the witnesses. Maybe that’s why they like talking. It’s like testifying in a way. I guess [it’s] a deep fundamental human need to be heard.”