Center of the Universe

Rachel Sager "Center of the Universe" mosaic map cartographyAugust 2013

30″h x 48″w

Materials: Deconstructed cardboard globe, Pennsylvania sandstone, Italian smalti, 24-karat gold smalti, glazed and unglazed ceramic, marble, metal grinder, computer components


Artist Statement

Maps of imagined territories are a recurring theme in my studio work. They symbolize exploring the unknown, crossing boundaries, taking risks, pushing limits, slaying dragons, and discovering treasure, all with a modicum of guidance that a map offers. In essence, they’re a metaphor for the maps that our technical skills and intuitive senses provide us in the creative process of making art.

This cartographical composition transposes two maps (or two philosophies) into one greater image. This personal map represents a slice of my history. A graffiti guerrilla scrawled the phrase “Center of the Universe” on the highway exit sign above the name of my insignificant tiny town of Arnold City, a blip on the map, back in the 1980s. The joke became immortalized in our family storytelling. The irony for us, though, was that it was accurate.

Looking at this composition, you can see two maps transposed together; one represents home, the other represents everyplace else that is not home. Both maps work together to create the story of my places. By building my home slices out of native Pennsylvania sandstone and the everyplace else slices from a deconstructed world globe, I contrast places in the abstract, but also our intimate relationships to place. As an adult, I travel the world with enthusiasm but am acutely aware of what was and may continue to be The Center of the Universe for me.