A Map Made of Photographs

Rebecca Heyl is an artist, author and educator who hails from the state of New York. She trained as photographer at the ICP-the International Center of Photography in New York City and has worked as a photojournalist for various newspapers and publications. Rebecca is no stranger to working with maps. In her 2008 book, Windows in the Wall, Heyl documented the construction of the more than 600 km barrier that separates the West Bank from Israel, chronicling the stories of the activists on both sides of this barrier who seek to continue a dialogue. Rebecca was inspired by this community and brings this lesson of seeking dialogue forward in her work today as community engaged artist.

Since moving to Burnaby in 2013, she has been mesmerized by the natural beauty of this region and works with schools to strengthen children’s connections with the natural world through art projects. She believes that a key to reconnecting to nature is recognizing Indigenous teachings and ways of
knowing as well as acknowledging that we all are temporary stewards of mother earth. She is invested in working with children and this fall will begin a PhD in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. Currently, she is embarking on a new, exciting project that seeks to re-image our interpretation of what a map could be and its relevance to our relationship with nature, the land we live on, and our connection with others.

Rebecca will be co-hosting an event during the Burnaby Festival of Learning called the Mapping Our Community: Photography Series. This event is meant to bring people’s ideas together even though we can’t be together physically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us tend to believe that maps are neutral objects without considering that there are biases incorporated into their creation. Rebecca hopes to help participants “take back the idea of a map,” by using photography to identify what aspects of the community are most valuable to members. She invites attendees to reclaim the map and transform it into a way to show gratitude for the land around us. She will be accomplishing this through the medium of photography, which is something that most of us have easy access to through our phones. Participants will benefit from Rebecca’s expertise by learning how to make the most of smartphone photography. Ultimately, the pictures captured during the event will represent an exciting diversity of viewpoints. This innovative project combines the art of mapping with photography and will help connect participants by generating discussions about what lays ahead for the future of Burnaby and the earth.

Burnaby Festival of Learning
Mapping Our Community: Photography Series May 9 10:30-12:00pm
The 2021 festival has ended – thank you to everyone who was able to virtually attend.