North Texas Daily

Students use GPS to make art from maps

Students use GPS to make art from maps

Studio art sophomore Ryann Worley's piece, Where Everything In The Attic Came To Life, was influenced by children's author Shel Silverstein. Her artwork won the "inspired" category in the UNT GPS Tracking Art Contest by popular vote. Photo by Aimee Pass/Staff Photographer

Students use GPS to make art from maps
January 14
17:35 2013

Trent Johnson/Senior Staff Writer

Art is perceived in numerous ways, from sketches to splashing paint on an empty canvas to the angles and curves on a map. Using a GPS tracking device, more than 100 UNT art students turned a personalized map into artwork that included childhood rooms, a peering bird and sand flowing through a tiered hand, among others.

Last semester, Drawing II students used devices from Track What Matters as a main tool to create pieces and win scholarships. An expert panel chose pre-communication design junior Laine Dorsey and pre-studio art junior Sarah Walker as winners, and online voters selected pre-studio art sophomore Ryann Worley and pre-visual arts studies sophomore Crystal Waters. Each student won a $500 check from Track What Matters.

“Four members of our staff, myself included, went to UNT, so we were very motivated to help promote UNT artwork,” said Ciera Liema, a marketing associate for Track What Matters. “We were very interested to see what would become of the artwork using the GPS trackers.”

Track What Matters CEO and UNT alum Steve Van Ooyen introduced the project to College of Visual Arts and Design Dean Robert Milnes, who reached out to Drawing II professor Elaine Pawlowicz.

The experimental contest required students to carry a GPS tracker and chart their travels. After two weeks students were issued a print map outlining their routes, which became their “inspired” pieces.

Students were asked to use the Poetics of Space topics, which involves drawing within specific boundaries such as corners, drawers and the universe.

“I wanted them to use the trackers to help them draw in a certain space,” Pawlowicz said. “They conceptually had to think about drawing an image using a map. The owner wanted them to use the tracker to draw say a horse, over the map.”

Popular vote winner Ryann Worley received more than 4,000 web hits for her winning piece. Worley said she was influenced by artists of her childhood such as Shel Silverstein and drew her piece as a fantasy world.

“She gave us numerous categories such as cabinets, shelves and fantasy,” Worley said. “I went back to the reason I’m at school, which is to do children’s book illustrations, so I chose fantasy.”

Winning the scholarship reaffirmed the confidence Worley had in her abilities while displaying her art on a large medium.

“The fact that I succeeded in a public manner with my art showed me and my family that
‘Ha I can do this,’” Worley said. “My motivation was to get the university and the city to know who I am, so I guess this was a good start.”

While Track What Matters sought web hits from potential voters, the students gained experience creating different kinds of art, Pawlowicz said. The trackers forced them to think in different ways.

“I just think it’s really important to continue to experiment with different technology,” Pawlowicz said. “It’s good to increase conceptual thinking and take advantage of this collaboration.”

All the winners’ work can be found on the Track What Matters website.

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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  1. June W.
    June W. January 15, 08:46

    This is awesome!!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ciera Lima
    Ciera Lima January 15, 09:25

    If you would like to view all the GPS-inspired art work, please visit our website or to learn more about this assignment you can visit,

    We hope you enjoy the art work. We sure did!

    Reply to this comment

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