Mapping the Geography of Art

by | Nov 1, 2013 | 0 comments

Most people who know Anders Zanichkowsky know him as a tireless queer activist for economic justice. He was the ACT ride coordinator at AIDS Network until 2012 and is currently a housing resource specialist at the Tenant Resource Center, helping to fight for renter’s rights, assist low-income people with their housing issues, and develop solutions for homeless individuals. But there is much more to Anders than activism, and soon Madison will enjoy more of Anders the pensive artist, writer, and curator.

Anders has a BA from Hampshire College and continued a focused pursuit of printmaking at UW-Madison. He works in all manner of print media, including woodcuts, intaglio, lithography, monoprints, monotypes, performance prints, and scores. But his work does not start, or stop, there. An intense researcher and writer, Anders has studied and written on geography and cartography, social theory, and philosophy. All of these disciplines feed and inform his work.

In his performance prints, Anders uses print techniques to document and record events. For example, the elegant, curvilinear mark left by a pendulum on an etching plate in Pendulum (2008). Or the striking contrast of positive and negative space when seeds and grains are tossed onto metal plates in Entropy (2009). Anders also combines print media, as in his series Disaster Books or Doubled Form, which combine lithography, etching, and poetry.

He has also created large-scale installations of his prints. For example, his undergraduate thesis, Antarctica, was a fifty-foot-long print installation of dark indigo blue monotype panels hung from the ceiling in a horizontal spiral, which viewers could enter in order to fully contemplate the stark, cold, isolated beauty of vast uninhabitable space. This work draws on Anders’s fascination with polar environments and includes a poetic statement:

To the Earth’s core Antarctica must seem such a hardened beauty. A house of wind that carves and polishes mountains; a continent of answers stored in ice. Ice that would never recognize the oceans it preserves, ice that melts as it buries itself, water and minerals turning upside down in stratas silently ignoring gravity, silently ignoring North.

To us Antarctica mostly means death. Death, and more questions. A person can go blind there from too much light, too many dry mirages on a relentless horizon. It is the largest place, the furthest away, with the harshest weather whipping the least amount of water—and life—in the world.

Antarctica is the palm of God that does not know that we exist.

His research into geography and cartography feeds a vast portfolio of map- and diagram-based prints, like the da Vinci-esque Notes on Spheres (2007). Anders is currently working on prints that combine etching, drawing, and watercolor. He is also curating an upcoming show at the Overture Center that will feature artists as visual ecologists. Visual ecology, which can be interpreted as the biology of vision, unmasks the way living organisms see differently. The exhibition will invite artists, who already play a critical role in helping us understand how we see what we see, to interpret and represent the natural world in abstract ways that ultimately will help us recognize our connection to nature.

With a deep passion for the environment, social justice, and equality, Anders has already established himself as an invaluable member of the Madison community. As his art and writing continue to evolve and proliferate, his presence will be felt that much more significantly. For more information on Anders and his work, visit his website at

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