Sinking Maps: A Conceptual Tool for Visual Metaphor

Joan Marie Giampa

Major Professor: Jaime Lester, PhD, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Committee Members: Harold Linton, Walter Kravitz

May 07, 2012, 10:00 AM to 07:00 AM


Sinking maps, created by Northern Virginia Community College professor Joan Marie Giampa, are tools that teach fine art students how to construct visual metaphor by conceptually mapping sensory perceptions.  Her dissertation answers the question, “Can visual metaphor be conceptually mapped in the art classroom?”  In the Prologue, Giampa explains the origins of developing a methodology for sinking maps.  This development derived from her analysis of her 1993 painting “Fish Pot”, as well as her coursework and teaching experiences.  In the Introduction, she explains that metaphor becomes visual by applying traditional, rhetorical methods for mapping knowledge (known as thinking maps).  The Review of Literature summaries and analyses these thinking maps (Circle, Bubble, Double Bubble, Tree, Brace, Flow, Multi-Flow, and Bridge) to show that they can become visual metaphors (by themselves or blended together to form new conceptual maps).  The Research Methodology lays out the study she conducted in her Design 131 class during the fall 2011 semester.  The study asked students to complete a series of data sheets to develop visual metaphor maps.  Then, they were asked to go into groups and combine their maps with other students to develop a group theme for a final group project.  The Data and Results show that all eight participants are able to develop visual metaphors from the sinking map tool and successfully combine their maps to generate group connections and themes. The Appendixes list the forms and worksheets used for the study.       
Keywords: art education, brace map, brainstorming, bridge map, bubble map, circle map, conceptual metaphor, conceptual blending, connectivity, design, double bubble map, flow map, frame of reference, funneling, mapping, metaphor, methodology, multi-flow map, nugget, painting, research, self-portrait, senses, sensation map, sinking maps, synesthesia, tree map, thinking maps, visual metaphor map, visual metaphor.