Connecticut College Magazine · Summer 2012

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Former Dean of the College Jewel Plummer Cobb with Beverly Clark Prince '72 in Cobb's lab at Connecticut College. Photo courtesy of the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives.

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Art major's campus map captures Connecticut College experience

by Monica Raymunt '09


How do you chart four years at Connecticut College on a single sheet of paper? Unofficial campus cartographer Alicia Toldi '12 may have found the answer.

Toldi, an art major and anthropology minor from San Mateo, Calif., and an illustrator for The College Voice, drew a campus map for the newspaper in 2010 to help visitors navigate campus during Fall Weekend. It featured stick figures playing Frisbee and tiny doodles next to buildings to indicate their function — a mask next to Tansill Theater, for example.

The quirky cartoon rendering of the campus caught the eye of Patricia Carey, vice president for college relations, who contacted Toldi about using it in a “survival guide” for new students. The map was so popular that this year Carey asked Toldi for a more comprehensive drawing of campus to send to admitted students this spring.

“We wanted admitted students to visualize themselves on campus, as insiders,” Carey says. “Alicia's map gives them a fun way to take that step.”

The final product, “The Unofficial Campus Map of Connecticut College,” includes nearly every building and student space on campus and hints at the wide range of experiences students can have at what can seem like a small place.

Folded, the document acts as a brochure: One panel highlights attractions in downtown New London, and another section depicts a compass with bubbles of text and cartoons describing the four main regions of campus.

Inside is a detailed map chock-full of tidbits of institutional knowledge that can take weeks, months or even years for students to learn on their own.
In sketching the campus topography, Toldi created a blueprint of Camel culture. She labeled residence houses and academic buildings with their nicknames. Tips like “Gong: do not ring until senior year” and “Harvestfest tent goes here” make the reader feel like an insider.

“It's a map that works,” Toldi says. “It's not just for getting from place to place.”

Before revising the map this year, Toldi tallied favorite student spots on campus, gathering input from friends and anyone who walked by during late-night brainstorming sessions in Cummings.

Her true inspiration, though, was another hand-drawn map, created in 1934 by “Don. Ray” and “B. Townsend,” which hangs in a corridor on the second floor of Shain Library. “I like the way it shows the culture of Conn back then,” Toldi says. “It's interesting to see what's changed and what's stayed the same.”

Though Ray and Townsend weren't affiliated with the College, Toldi likes to think that she has followed in their footsteps.

“Drawing the new map while looking at the old one, I realized that I was showing more than just where things are,” she says. She hopes that student-drawn maps become a tradition to document the evolving campus.

Toldi, who worked as an artist's assistant in Brooklyn last summer through the College's funded internship program, is now a production assistant for Mr. Boddington's Studio, a letterpress stationery company in New York. She says mapping the campus helped her map her future.

“Drawing the map made me happy about my decision to come to Conn,” she says. “Using my pen to capture (campus landmarks) through words or pictures really made me appreciate them.”

View the hand-drawn map [PDF] created by Alicia Toldi '12 to introduce new students to campus.


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