Holes In The City

San Francisco-based artist Kathryn Clark used to work as an urban planner between 1999 and 2004. In 2007, when the foreclosures began to occur in the United States, she began wondering to which extent she added to this problem by promoting home ownership. Using quilts, she created an extraordinary series of visualizations, based on maps of urban urban areas, that show how foreclosures are affecting US neighborhoods.

“It was important to me to present the whole story in a way that would captivate people’s attention and make a memorable statement. Making quilts seemed an ironic solution. Quilts act as a functional memory, an historical record of difficult times.”

Each quilt in the Foreclosure Series portrays only a small part of a city. Clark explains that she pieced the quilts together using patterns of neighborhood blocks taken from RealtyTrac maps, a website that provides insight in foreclosures in the US. Foreclosed lots are visualized as holes in the quilts. “The neighborhoods shown are not an anomaly”, Clark says. “They are a recurring pattern seen from coast to coast, urban to suburban neighborhoods across the US. The problem has not been solved, it is still occurring, just changing shape, affecting more of us.”

This article on Sociological Images (great blog if you like data visualizations about subjects that matter) claims that the normative belief that home ownership is the most desirable option for adults, is one of the decisive causes for the housing market collapse in the United States. The symbolic importance of home ownership “provided justification for consumers to risk their savings, even when offered poor subprime loans”. Check out the graphic below if you want to learn more about foreclosures and their dynamics.

Via McFarlin Law