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Community Impact Newspaper: 2015 Article by Joe Lanane

Austinites can map their emotions as part of WEST art exhibit

By Joe Lanane
May 6, 2015

West Austin Studio TourA public art project that asks Austinites to map their emotions will be featured as part of the West Austin Studio Tour, or WEST, a free two-weekend, multi-location art show that starts May 9.

Austin-based artist Jennifer Chenoweth is inviting WEST attendees to place pins on a life-size map of Austin where a meaningful experience occurred, whether it be positive or negative. Her interactive art piece called XYZ Atlas will be featured in Hyde Park on the north field of the Elizabet Ney Museum, which named Chenoweth its first visual artist-in-residence, she said.

“People get to use it as a visual diary of the places that make Austin feel like home,” Chenoweth said. “It’s a really fun way to get them to reflect on their lives and their attachment to Austin.”

Chenoweth first hatched the idea for the project back in 1999, she said, and it has grown steadily ever since, with a first incarnation debuting in 2013 at CoLab Projects in East Austin. Participation for that first run was small, Chenoweth admits, but it did reveal how positively people revere Barton Springs Creek—and how much they loathe I-35, she said.

Participants answer a 20-question survey, either in person or online, with questions ranging from “Where have you laughed the hardest?” to “Where did you act like a jackass?” Online participants can also submit photos or videos and share it as part of their submission, said Chenoweth, who wants the project to appeal to art enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike.

“As an artist, I’m always looking for ways to use art to engage people and make it fun and interesting,” she said.

All answers are mapped and given a color based on positive or negative emotions, Chenoweth said, and the end result—a topographic-looking map—will debut at Zilker Park next May as part of a public art project sponsored by the city. WEST attendees can participate in person May 9-10 or answer the online survey through December, she said.

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