At first glance, viewers of Cathy Hummel's large printed canvases might notice an overhead view of a lake, complete with some major roads winding around the perimeter. Hummel sees something a little different.
"I call it maps of memories because I think that's what happens when you look at it," she said.
The interior designer launched her business Lake Overview in 2002 out of necessity for something she wanted but couldn't find—an aesthetically pleasing map of Minnesota's Pelican Lake where she spent summers with her grandparents.
"I look at this and what I see is water and swimming, and memories and going barefoot and grandpa and grandma and family gatherings and all the things that just flood back," she said, "and I've found that I'm not alone."
Hummel wanted a "pretty picture" of Pelican Lake, something she could hang on the wall to remind herself of a beloved place. When she couldn't find one to buy, she taught herself Photoshop and designed it herself.
At first, Lake Overview primarily made county maps, showing a bird's-eye view of all the lakes of Becker and Otter Tail counties in Minnesota. Those posters help give a sense of the size of Otter Tail Lake, for example, and offer a sense of direction.
But she started to focus more on individual lakes or a small cluster of lakes this year. Lake Overview now offers lake-depth maps that show the boundaries of some of many of the bodies of water in Becker, Otter Tail and other Minnesota counties.
Rather than make a map to get around the windy roads of lakes country or help anglers know where to cast their lines, Hummel said these new pieces of art are meant to give people like her an attractive new way to showcase their favorite Minnesota spot.
"My impetus here was to just be able to have my lake as pretty and artistic as I could without being commercial or being anything other than something I'd like to look at on the wall," she said.
Hummel handles the bulk of the work, asking for help on small parts of the graphic design process that exceed her self-taught skills. Once she's done with the design, she sends the file to a Fargo business that prints the image on a sailcloth canvas, and she gallery wraps the canvas around a wood frame.
She's already mapped out many of the major lakes of this region, but she said she can handle custom commissions and modify her existing designs as needed.
Lake Overview's new maps are available in three different sizes for $80 to $280 at Fargo's Scheels Home & Hardware, 3202 13th Ave. S. She also sells at a variety of stores in Minnesota, including Natalie's Serendipity in Vergas and Heritage Custom Framing in Walker.
Hummel's creations do include some common features of a typical map, such as a compass to show directions. They also have signs of their intention as an art piece, including a "not for navigation" disclaimer.
"I said one time, 'Don't call me when you're lost in the woods,' " she joked.
Her maps might not necessarily help get around the region, but Hummel said she hopes they can help viewers navigate their way back to their favorite lake memories.
"It's something that we all easily share and enjoy," she said.
What: Lake Overview
Phone: (701) 235-2296