The Mapping Atlanta Project Lab is a part of the EPIC Program at Georgia State University. Faculty, grad students, and undergrads in the Lab work on mapping projects focused on Atlanta communities that explore the intersections between data visualization and storytelling. Some of our current projects include the Rap Map, Krog Codex, a History of South-Asian Restaurants in Atlanta, and the Forced Migration project. Participating students will gain mapping and GIS skills, data collection and cleaning, and geospatial thinking. Find out more about some of the projects below.
The Krog street tunnel project focuses on cataloging and capturing the tunnel’s street art. The tunnel has been a canvas for many street artists in Atlanta for years, dating back to the mid-twentieth century. Our project team not only examines the new paintings, messages, and designs on the walls, but they also study the creatives behind the art as well. The mapping lab leaders and students conduct exciting interviews with artists and members of the community so that they can record the information on their digital database. The tunnel’s art is ephemeral, the archive is constantly updated, curated, and cataloged. The students working on the project plan to create impressive 3D scans of the tunnel to capture a permanent record of the structure. It’s a dual process that results in the students themselves creating a wonderful piece of art and also preserving the alluring messages that emerge everyday. This project was funded in part by the Kuhn Public History Endowment.
● Digital photography
● Data and file organization
● Writing procedural documentation
● Devising new plans as real world problems present themselves.
● What does Krog mean to different communities?
● How does Krog represent graffiti as an art form and how does it diverge from the traditions?
● How do communities transform infrastructure created by government and business for other purposes into cultural spaces?
“This is an interesting project, I like taking pictures under the tunnel and the different scenery.” -Lab Undergrad
Dr. Elizabeth West, an English professor at Georgia State, was given a set of papers detailing her family history some years ago. She was intrigued at finding stories of the family matriarch, Francis Sistrunk, a woman born enslaved in southern Georgia.
Dr. West founded a Project Lab to investigate the life of Francis and write Finding Francis, a history of her ancestor. Using traditional archive research and new mapping technologies such as GIS and Google Earth, they started creating a portrait of Francis.
Using both census records and deeds, students were able to trace West’s ancestor to the lands owned by Seaborn Whatley, her enslaver’s neighbor and a distant relative of Francis. They were able to map out Whatley’s land as well as neighboring landowners by referencing historical maps.
After mapping the lands of Seaborn Whatley and his neighbors in 1850, Dr. West’s students discovered that the Whatley home was still standing in Harris County, Georgia. With the help of the contemporary owner, they were able to get a fuller picture of Francis Sistrunk’s life.
The Rap Map locates the lyrics of Atlanta hip hop artists to create a map of the city based on narratives from historically marginalized communities rather than the traditional maps created by those in positions of power. Initially started by a Political Science grad student at GSU, the project now includes a growing number of undergraduates close reading an artist’s body of work for locations. Students are also researching where artists went to school, own businesses, and are doing philanthropic work. We are collecting more official GIS data sets as well, like police zones, census information, and city resources. As our data grows, we are working on ways to tell stories through various mapping platforms.
● Data collection
● Problem solving
● Close reading
● Data visualization
● Where is Atlanta located for hip hop artists?
● Why has the rap map spread into the suburbs and how is this connected to demographic shifts and gentrification?
● How does the rap map align and conflict with other maps of the city?
“My favorite thing about the project is looking at the lyrics and understanding and decoding them”
The South Asian Restaurant project explores the history of South Asian restaurants in Atlanta and the influence they have had on local communities. In the last century, the migration of people from South Asia due to geopolitical and economic reasons has created small yet influential immigrant communities and centers in America. Our project team has mapped out past and present restaurants and talked to restaurant owners and customers to collect personal narratives about South Asian eateries. We also collect historical data and research peculiar anomalies found in data archives. Our project team has also analyzed how region and dietary restrictions impact cuisine through compelling research and impressive interviews with restaurants. Our goal is to create an interactive multimedia map that examines the overall impact that South Asian cuisine has in the metropolitan area. This project was funded in part by the Kuhn Public History Endowment.
● Problem solving
● Advanced research skills
● Software fluency
● Data collection and visualization
● How has a map of South-Asian restaurants shifted over time, and how has that been connected to immigration patterns?
● How have South-Asian populations and restaurants affected the food culture in Atlanta?
● Why is there a hegemony of Indian food among South-Asian restaurants?
● How has the pandemic affected these restaurants in the last year?