12th Grade
English and Multimedia
Rachel Nichols and Margaret Noble


“A city is a particular kind of place, perhaps best described as many worlds in one place; it compounds many versions without quite reconciling them, though some cross over to live in multiple worlds… An atlas is a collection of versions of a place, a compendium of perspectives, snatching out the infinite ether of potential versions a few that will be made concrete and visible.” 

– Rebecca Solnit, Infinite City


Our Essential Guiding Questions:

How do we help students to become more aware of their surroundings, in order to foster an educated, ethical, and empathetic community?

How do we facilitate opportunities to help students translate experiences, investigations, and ideas into artistic renderings that effectively communicate new knowledge?


We devised an experiential project, “Complex City” in order to help students think critically about their communities.  In asking them to map an area of San Diego that had significance to them, we wanted them to step back from the familiar aspects of their community and city, and translate those aspects into a visual map. As part of this project, students researched, interviewed, and investigated their city and community in myriad ways. What they once thought was familiar suddenly became very unknown. By compiling their work and making collective and idiosyncratic maps of San Diego, they have been challenged to rethink what they understood to be the reality of the built environment around them, as well as to accept the new knowledges that their classmates contribute. They have become more invested in their own community because their new knowledge implicates them as involved citizens. Using Solnit’s Infinite City as one model, and our own creative explorations as another, we have made a series of complementary, contradictory, confounding and even contestatory maps of San Diego. These maps collect particular versions of this place (versions not always visible to others, or in traditional maps) as we see it.

The student production process started with research and writing and then moved into graphic design and critiques. Once art direction styles and visuals assets were finalized, students then animated their maps in Adobe After Effects. The final exhibition resulted in a type of “digital graffiti” that showed large scale projections of their maps cast on the school and neighborhood buildings


Congratulations to several of our students who were winners in the national ODT Map Art Contest!

Nathaniel Ross & Jose Gonzales – 1st Place
Neil Baffert & Kiraleigh Cooper – 3rd Place
Marlene Bajaras & Livy Solis – 3rd Place
Spencer Tamkin & Ciara White – 3rd Place
Jasmine Thomas & Michelina Miedema – 3rd Place
Holden Sarda & Diego Rodriguez – 3rd Place
Megan Alsheikh & Alex Avaloso – 3rd Place


Complexcity was presented by students and teachers at the the Education in Action: Experiential Learning Conference at Sixth College.








Complexcity was also featured at UCSD’s 6th College exhibition, Mapping Occupations at the ARTifact Gallery.









Complexcity was published in the Parsons Journal for Informational Mapping.





Complexcity was featured on Expeditionary Learning





Exhibition Photos


Student Projects

Created by N.R. & J.G.

Created by N.B. & K.C.

Created by A.A. and M.A.

Created by W.W. and J.T.

Created by H.S. and D.R.

Created by L.S. and M.B.

Created by J.M. and F.P.

Created by S.T. and C. W.

Created by T.B. and T. B.

Created by A.H. and G.P.

Created by J.T. and M.M.

Created by L.P. and J.K.

Created by J.P. and M.V.

Created by M. B. and K.R.

Created by M. C. and R.T.

Created by T.W. and A.E.

Created by J.A. and A.R.

Created by T.C. and S.C.

Created by M.F. and S.F.

Created by C.Z. and V.A.