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Artist creates intricate portraits out of old maps

ARTIST NIKKI ROSATO creates intricate portraits by cutting away at old maps, leaving only the roads and rivers behind like a network of blood vessels.


Rosato uses a Stanley knife to hand-cut away all of the landmasses between the roads and waterways, and then uses the delicate paper left to create portraits – some in 2-D and some sculptural pieces.


For the sculptural pieces, such as a bust she created of herself, she creates a structure out of packing tape to act as a mold and then shapes the map around the head, using a gel to stiffen the material, supporting the overall frame with an internal structure of small wires. Larger pieces require a number of different maps glued together.


Rosato told "Through the removal of the land masses, the places almost become ambiguous, since all of the text is lost. Unless someone really knows the roads and highways, it is almost impossible to identify the place."


She first started playing around with maps after finding a box of vintage maps in a used bookstore at a printmaking conference at Virginia Commonwealth University. She bought a few and took them home to experiment with, noticing how there was a parallel between the road lines and the lines that cover the human body.


Written by Olivia Solon