In January 2011, the MFA Program in Creative Writing brought essayist Rebecca Solnit to the University of Wyoming as an Eminent Writer in Residence. Solnit, who had just completed the innovative Infinite City atlas project in her home city of San Francisco, spent four weeks guiding an interdisciplinary group of UW students in the creation of a new atlas of Laramie and the region. Cartographers Ben Pease and Shiz Seigel were integral to the project, developing base maps and providing invaluable logistical and graphic design support. Sponsored by the MFA Program, the UW Art Museum, the Program in Environment/Natural Resources and the Social Justice Research Center, the atlas was displayed as a multi-media exhibition at the UW Art Museum from April 29-June 18, 2011. The atlas was later exhibited at UW’s Coe Library (August-September, 2011), the California Institute of Integrated Studies (December 8, 2011-January 29, 2012) and the Thoreau Center for Sustainability (April 26-June 8, 2012).

As Solnit noted in her artist’s statement for the initial exhibition, “Laramie is still the west, as a geographical location and a legacy, though that legacy is complicated. On some maps Laramie looks remote, but on our maps being remote merely means that a lot of what’s here has traveled a long distance. With the comings and goings of students and faculty, Native American citizens, Asian influences, the interstate highway, stray animals, the railroad that is the reason it was built, Laramie is a place of comings and goings, the here always in dialogue with there. After all, what we call a place is nothing more than a stable point of intersection among restless forces. And so these several versions of Laramie (and the essays that go with them) begin to tell us what Laramie is, this town of ghosts and taxidermy and ants and missile silos and goods and ideas and people from afar all converged.”

Recent Submissions

  • Cartographic Collapse 

    Contributor:Zhorov, Irina
    Date:2013-03-07
    In the essay that accompanies this map, I write: One maps one's fears, one's desires: old maps teem with monsters and maelstroms lying low in the waters that lead to promised lands. Modern maps only chart these same interests ...
  • Landmarks, Landscape 

    Contributor:Booms, Katie
    Date:2013-03-07
    Here in Wyoming we're surrounded by these famously beautiful mountains, and the natural environment seems to be integral to Laramie's character. So started thinking of Laramie as an outward facing city, looking out toward ...
  • Velocity, Ferocity, and the Gem City 

    Contributor:Kelley, Chavawn
    Date:2013-03-07
    Laramie began with the arrival of the railroad in 1868 and a succession of transcontinental routes followed, most notably the Lincoln Highway and I-80. The bullet hole in the mirror of the Buckhorn Bar has always seemed ...
  • Saloons and Salons 

    Contributor:Pham, Jacklynn
    Date:2013-03-07
    I created saloons and salons as one way of directly subverting the narrative of Laramie as a wild western town, by showing that Laramie has 23 bars, but 34 beauty salons, a contrast to the idea of a hearty, rough and tumble, ...
  • Many Homes : Five American Indians Maps Wyoming 

    Contributor:Gunther, Kristen
    Date:2013-03-07
    There are numerous connections between the University of Wyoming and the American Indian tribes present in this region. In fact, the University is currently in the process of inventorying all of the various ways in which ...
  • Racks and Rifles 

    Contributor:Gunther, Kristen
    Date:2013-03-07
    One aspect unifies all branches of taxidermy. It strives to create the appearance of life in that which is unequivocally dead. And the life represented is always eternally stilled, whether or not it bears its fangs, whether ...
  • Female Trouble 

    Contributor:Herbinson, Kelly
    Date:2013-03-07
    Hi, my name is Kelly Herbinson and I created the concept for the map. The theme is undervalued female labor in Wyoming both by nurses and ants. I was startled to learn that Wyoming currently has the widest gender wage gap ...
  • Wild Wild East 

    Contributor:Osofsky, Luling
    Date:2013-03-07
    This map aims to highlight the surprising prevalence in range of Asian traces found in Laramie. Laramie's downtown is dotted with a handful of Asian restaurants as well as studios for yoga, martial arts and acupuncture. ...
  • Ghosts & Cottonwoods 

    Contributor:LeClair, Tasha
    Date:2013-03-07
    Trees say people live here; ghosts say they used to. Laramie's most famous ghost stories feature people who lived during its early days as a railroad camp and home of the Territorial Prison. Some cottonwoods can live for ...
  • Geography of Strays : A 2010 Census 

    Contributor:McCarney, Mary Kate
    Date:2013-03-07
    Laramie animal control keeps an arrival log that includes an entry for every animal in residence. Each page of this log features 32 one-line entries for 32 incoming animals. The 2010 log is 40 pages long. My map takes this ...
  • Quarries and Climbs 

    Contributor:Wright, Paula
    Date:2013-03-07
    In local climbing lore, legend persists of a Vedauwoo hermit who resided amongst the lichen-speckled granite domes for several summers in the late 1940's or early 1950's. The hermit likely climbed many routes without ...
  • Cold War, Warm Planet 

    Contributor:Flagg, Kathryn
    Date:2013-03-07
    Cold War, Warm Planet juxtaposes the extent of beetle kill in southwestern Wyoming's forest with the locations of decommissioned nuclear missile silos. These silos were originally home to the Atlas missiles installed in ...
  • Apple A Day, An 

    Contributor:Hagy, Alyson
    Date:2013-03-07
    I want to make a map of things that are hard to nurture in Laramie. Why does it seem like it's hard to find a doctor here? Why are fruit trees so precious to us? Why do so many people in Wyoming seem to hate the affordable ...
  • Birds, Birding, and Birders 

    Contributor:Dema, Tsering
    Date:2013-03-07
    Laramie, with its large expansive sagebrush, aspens, conifers and riparian habits is a haven for numerous birds. The waterfowls and shore birds swim and wade in the ponds, rivers and lakes of Laramie. Others like falcons, ...