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Shaped Using Precisely Cut Maps, Nikki Rosato’s Busts and Portraits Connect Place, Memory, and Identity

Untitled (Merged) IV, 2015
hand-cut road map
71.5h x 71.5w inches

Through mesh busts and delicate portraits, Nikki Rosato visualizes the connections between place and identity. The Washington, D.C.-based artist carves out the multi-colored highways and back roads from common maps, leaving the distances and spatial markings intact. She then shapes the cut paper into figurative sculptures and 2D artworks that vary in density and color depending on the original city or region.


Rosat utilizes the precise markings of cartography to highlight the complex, inner-workings of memory and belonging. “As we move through life, the places we inhabit and the people that we meet alter and shape us into the person that we are in the present day. I am interested in the idea that a place I visited as a child has affected the outcome of the person that I am today,” she says.


In a note to Colossal, the artist shares that she shifted her practice after her grandmother died in 2018. “I’ve taken the last few years to do a lot of research into my strong matriarchal lineage (my great grandmother literally walked hundreds of miles on foot with a 2-year-old to escape Lithuania in the early 1900s and then built our family in a small town in Pennsylvania),” she says, adding that her current projects consider the trajectory of these two figures’ lives.


Some of Rosato’s intricate works are available from Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, and you can follow her pieces on Artsy.