Salt Lake City-based artist Douglas Tolman’s project Where Are you? interrogates map-making and deepens community connections to place.
Douglas Tolman is an interdisciplinary artist primarily practicing in the Great Salt Lake and Colorado River Watersheds. Tolman’s practice is informed by “place-based youth education, ecological science, and human-powered movement.” His work occupies “the space between sculpture, image, and community work.”
In a 2021 project funded by a University of Utah fellowship with support from the Salt Lake City Arts Council and in collaboration with local non-profit organizations, Tolman’s Where Are You? kiosk embarked on its journey. The nomadic interpretative kiosk steps away from the typical map signage of “you are here” and instead invites inquiry-based participation with the prompt “where are you?” along with artmaking supplies to facilitate a deeper sense of place with its participants. When using maps, we often see the world through a prescribed and defined lens—one that is created without the nuanced histories that are an intricate part of a location. The work not only engages the viewer with bioregions that surround them but it also opens the door to deeper discussions that connect us to current environmental concerns by visiting places of ecological, hydrological, and cultural significance.
As of August 2022, the nomadic kiosk has engaged more than 500 participants, led countermapping lessons with elementary school youth, spent three weeks in residence at Antelope Island State Park, conversed with scientists at the Great Salt Lake Issues Forum, and made pop-up stops at several trailheads and parks. By facilitating generative spaces of inquiry, Tolman’s body of work attempts to deepen the community’s sense of place in pursuit of solutions to climate and land-use challenges.
Salt Lake City, Utah | douglastolman.com