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Know the West

A Gem City Atlas: Novel maps of Laramie, Wyoming


What is Laramie? This winter, creative writing graduate students at the University of Wyoming teamed with Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas author Rebecca Solnit and cartographers Ben Pease and Shizue Seigel to answer that question. The series of maps and essays that resulted provide a nuanced portrait of place -- one that pairs missile silos with beetle kill, ghosts with cottonwoods, the wild West with its longstanding Asian influences. Beneath that, says the project's lead professor Alyson Hagy, lies a deepened sense of community that developed through an ever-widening net of collaboration, which drew in locals, artists, and other university departments and public institutions. Any community could undertake such an effort to endlessly re-imagine itself, Hagy adds: When people see Laramie: A Gem City Atlas -- on display at the UW Art Museum through June 18 -- "their first response is, 'I would map this,' or 'I would map that.' "