Welcome to OurSLC Blog!

OurSLC is a multi-year civic arts project hosted by the Sorenson Unity Center in collaboration with the West Salt Lake communities of Glendale and Poplar Grove and in partnership with the Salt Lake City Arts Council and the Salt Lake City Division of Parks and Public Lands.

See the work being done as part of the OurSLC: Claim it! with Youth City, City Lab and Latinos in Action at Glendale Middle School and The Westside Storytelling Project by clicking on the tabs on the right under post categories. You can find community member’s participation under the Claim it! photography project link. You can even make your own claim about what is important to you or how you think space should be claimed in your neighborhood by clicking on Get Involved. Lastly, you can find information on upcoming exhibits and related public programs under the Exhibits tab.

Thank you for helping us build this exciting community project.

Faces of Halloween LIA

They nicknamed me “The Beast” which I took as a compliment.  The line to have your face painted by The Beast lingered peeking around each other’s shoulders.

After our intense work on our theme “Claim It!”  and painting the shed out back, it was nice to have a goofy day together.  I like these kids and I will take the nickname as a sign they just may like me too.

We could have talked about masks.  The art historical context of masks, the metaphorical weight beneath a mask, or the characters in literature and theater who have worn masks.  All that was for another day.  This day was simply for laughter and apparently, a few tears.

Developing Claims


Students work on building and painting cubes, that they will build into five foot tall towers in which to showcase their developed claims.

In the ‘Claim It!’ project at YouthCity, the younger students have been working on developing their claims. A claim can range from personal to entirely external, from silly to serious. By examining other community members’ claims from various public events from the past several months, students are developing a deeper understanding of what it means to claim a space.

This week, we will examine the different spaces at Sorenson Unity Center that could potentially be home to the student’s ideas for a public artwork based on the claims we develop together. We will also work on claiming one word and create a zentangle design to showcase this word, with an emphasis on pattern, shape and craftsmanship.

LIA claim shed with color at Glendale Middle School


4 roles of blue tape later and we are off to a good start!

On Tuesday the LIA students got a taste of how art claims space.  What was once an ordinary shed quickly became theirs.

Working from drawings done in class students collaborated in groups to design their own wall.  They did an awesome job of composition and considering the entire space.  They used the basic idea of triangles to break up each space in an interesting way. Continue reading

Recovery Day Celebration at Gallivan


The Recovery Day Celebration at the Gallivan was a fantastic event attended by a dynamic and passionate crowd.

Like so many community events that we have attended with our photo opportunity to “make a claim,” there was a strong message shared by many of the attendees- this time the importance of health, sobriety and loving relationships as things to be claimed.

They did so in an enthusiastic, public way for the benefit of the larger community.

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‘Claim It!’ launches with Youth City Sorenson

My name is Elisabeth Bunker, and I am one of the community teaching artist for the ‘Claim It!’ project, part of the OurSLC project. I’m working with a Youth City group of younger students, grades 4-8. The project we develop over the next several months will be installed somewhere around the vicinity of the Sorenson Campus and the Three Creeks Confluence with the Jordan River.

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Our classroom at Sorensen Multicultural Center, part of Youth City. Students Dakota, Zack and Fayla work on their claims.


Dakota gets her markers and colored pencils ready to draw!

The students will spend the next several months working on ideas, artwork and projects based on their “claims”, which is a framework for helping residents of west side Salt Lake City help define their space in many senses of the word.

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Claim it: Act like it.

Community art piece painted at Recovery Day September 12 2015 - to be donated to VOA new Teen shelter.

Community art piece painted at Recovery Day September 12 2015 – to be donated to VOA new Teen shelter.

I came today with written and visual proof.

Because what good is a claim without action to back it up?

Why I haven’t made this connection yet, I don’t know.  But it feels like a revealing puzzle piece.  From the beginning I have been asking myself, “What should we do with this grant?”  Of course we take it a step beyond asking students to make claims.  The next question is:  What are you going to do about it?

For example:  I claim to be an artist.

Action:  I showed them my sketch book.  I also brought a slide show of community art pieces I have facilitated over the last 5 years.

Many of the pieces have been donated to local institutions.  Namely Palmer Court which is a more permanent residence for people coming from the Road Home.  They can gain assistance with education, job placement and parenting resources.  I was reminded of how a simple piece of art can open a dialogue about our world.

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LIA show at Poor Yorick

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The LIA students did such fine work on their drawings, that they were invited to participate in a show at Poor Yorick studios!  Twice a year this artist space opens its’ doors and invites the public inside to see what they’ve been making.

Megan Hallet and Sarah Kappos were on site taking photographs and asking people to make claims about something important to them.  OurSLC:  Claim It! is asking people to think:  What is really important to me?  Many folks were surprised at how difficult of a question this actually is.  They also felt hesitant to write something in bold letters and be photographed holding up their claim.

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The Challenge

A class of 28 poised and uniformed students sits at their desks. I didn’t expect them to be this quiet. I didn’t expect them to listen.

Pepper Ann the rock climber - age 6

Pepper Ann the rock climber – age 6


I bring the PhotoFly book my husband made me for mother’s day.  I show them pictures of my kids. I tell them about my 3 year old son Beckam, and how he wakes up at 3 am demanding Ramen noodles and Lucky Charms.  I show them rock climbing pics of my 6 year old daughter Pepper.   I tell them about how I sprained my ankle 10 steps into a 5K race.  Then I show them my misshapen ankle, and we all agree it is gross.   I want them to know me because I want to know them.   The challenge is this:  Can we open up enough in 3 short months to make authentic art together?

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