The International Peace Gardens

Situated in West Salt Lake, the International Peace Gardens in the Jordan Park represent unity and brotherhood among diverse nations and people.  Twenty eight nations are featured in the gardens with statues and beautiful floral displays.

A world torn apart by the Second World War found healing when the Salt Lake Council of Women, veterans, and multiple national groups came together to build the Peace Gardens. Today, visitors from all over the globe come to Salt Lake City to visit the Peace Gardens and experience its sense of brotherhood and hope for the nations of the world.

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City Celebrates Launch of Community Art Project for Youth


September 21, 2015

Contact: Chris Peterson, Sorenson Unity Center (801) 232-3226

City Celebrates Launch of Community Art Project for Youth

SALT LAKE CITY — City and community leaders will celebrate the launch of OurSLC: Claim it! a multi-year community arts project of Salt Lake City’s Sorenson Unity Center and the communities of Glendale and Poplar Grove at 2 p.m. on September 22 at the 9-Line BMX Pump Track, 700 West and 900 South, in Salt Lake City. 

 The Glendale Middle School Latinos in Action youth group will kick off the project with the installation of a pop-up art work at one of the future sites of the National Endowment of the Arts-funded program. 

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What We’ve Been Doing This Summer

Jesus walks into the art room with a quiet respect for space where art is made. I write the prompt on the board: What do you claim in your life? He tells us, he claims his art and that it’s the thing that brought him back to school.

In our weekly processIMG_1146 to ClaimIt!, some students’ artistic dedication and love for the arts has emerged more fully. The ClaimIt! framework recognizes the potential that already exists in students and now allows it to become a mantra. During our classes, we’ve discussed claiming one’s own story, drawings and even recognizing when one’s claims can be false or incomplete about others or themselves. Jesus is just one of the students that has used the language of ClaimIt! to make his art and call upon others to perceive the world through his eyes.

One of the most striking entries in his drawing notebook came through this image and the following thoughtful caption, “If I could claim the world, I would end all lies and I would end poverty and killing–Will you fly or fall?”

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What is a social practice of art making?

Claim-It_PacificIsland_278- aug 1In the words of Randy Kennedy, the social practice of art making “blur(s) the lines among object making, performance, political activism, community organizing, environmentalism, and investigative journalism, creating a deeply participatory art.”

This distinction is an import one for this community art project. The artwork will not only be the resulting public art objects, but the entire conversation created around the theme of claiming it. The Claim-It_PacificIsland_273performance of claiming something, through your participation, becomes attached to the final objects.

It is our hope that Claim it! is genuinely participatory in its approach, meaning that we set up a variety of activities through which people from all over the city – with a geographic focus on West Salt Lake – access the theme and interpret it from their experience.

Join us for the performance, the Claim-It_PacificIsland_317 (1)conversation, and the documentation of claiming what is important to you, right now, right here, in our SLC.


Chris – The Painter (aka Civic Arts Studio Project chrisbwManager) is a native Utahn who grew up in the foothills of Mount Timpanogos.  He started painting landscapes in his twenties, with frequent excursions to the UTah backcountry to fuel inspiration. He continues to paint today, although a career in the nonprofit and education sectors provided Chris with opportunities to expand his practice into  community art, art education, and mural projects. He holds a BFA in Painting from Brigham Young University and from the University of Utah, he’s earned an MPA and an MS in Environmental Humanities.  Some of his project include the Sugarspace Mural Project, Hawkwatch Mural Project, Sorenson ArtPark, and multiple projects at the Tracy Aviary. Chris  is currently working as the Director of the Sorenson Unity Center in Salt Lake City’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

photo meMegan – The Educator (aka Civic Arts Curator) was raised in San Diego and spent her first 17 years there. She went to college in St. Mary’s City, Maryland and graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts. She later obtained a masters degree in education from the University of Utah. She has been working as an art teacher for the last 15 years, in a variety of settings. These have included a botanical garden, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and now, the Salt Lake City School District. She is interested in helping people of all ages and abilities find confidence in creating art and sharing their stories in all possible forms. She has curated and co-produced a number of art exhibits involving youth including Community: Eat, Work, Play, Thrive at Art Access and participated in Drive By Art, located in downtown Salt Lake City. She is currently the director of the non-profit Framework Arts,which is a project-based, curriculum-building organization that engages youth and educators throughout the community in creating and representing personal narratives.

moanablog7Moana – The Storyteller (aka Teaching Artist/Community Arts Coordinator) was born on the Westside of Salt Lake City to ‘Alama and Losaline ‘Ulu’ave, both of Niuafo’ou, Tongatapu. She is an Oprah Winfrey High School Essay Contest winner and a Gates Millennium Scholar. In April of 2012, she graduated with University Honors from BYU in English and a minor in Sociology. Her honors thesis was entitled, Tauhi Va: Nourishing the Space Between–A Collection of Essays which dealt with her love of growing up in Glendale and her identities as a Mormon, Tongan, and American. In May 2014, she graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the Arts in Education program. Today, you can find Moana at the Sorenson Unity Center serving her own community through arts and activism. In her spare time, she likes to laugh with her family, watch sitcoms, and write brief, but fierce essays.

Local Community Members – YOU! (aka The Artists) This is your chance to participate in creative community art making and imagine a more vibrant community.. We’ll be sharing more details in the coming weeks, so please, subscribe or contact us

Claim it at Poplar Grove Park

We are creating public art pieces for three sites in West Salt Lake. This presents us with challenges and opportunities.

Some of the challenges:

  • How can we work over time with a variety of stakeholders to create pieces that are truly from and of the community?teresa-poplar
  • What will the work look like and how many hands will craft it?
  • How will we make choices between different ideas as we go forward?

The truth is that we don’t know. At least not yet.

But we are crafting the process to get us to that point, one that is complex and broad enough to capture the variety of voices and faces we need to hear from and see. We may not see the artwork just yet, but we see all of the rich storytelling opportunities that working to see it presents.

Last night presented one of these opportunities at the University Neighborhood Partners in the Park event at Poplar Grove. Local residents – with the welcome encouragement of Teresa from UNP – accepted our invitation to Claim It!

Some of the claims made:

  • I want to claim more mercy.
  • I want to claim more advocacy for victims of domestic violence.eaquality- poplar
  • I want to claim more education for kids.
  • I want to claim opportunities for better jobs.
  • I claim my family.
  • I claim my right to live in world where people with different perspectives get to live and work together.

Join us and make your claim this Saturday, August 1st at:

Claim it! at the Library

We are so happy to have been included in the Alt Press Fest activities at the Main Library last weekend. Alternative press looks like many different things as a product, but as a process it is a way to have multiple voices delivered in a variety of media, through non-traditional routes. It is an opportunity for self-publishing and small publishing of perspectives that do not tend to be covered in broad news and traditional publishing. For us it was a perfect fit. Claim-It_Alt-Press- heard as a womanDocumenting our communities claims through conversation and photography. And it was a broad section of the community, our roughly 60 participants represented over 15 different zip codes. Some of their claims:

I claim my dolls.

I claim more Pokemon cards.Claim-It_Alt-Press_133- to learn

I claim that Alliance House is Happiness.

I claim my right to marry.

I claim my strength as a woman.

I claim my right to make bad art.Claim-It_Alt-Press_121- to make art

I want to claim more space for people on foot and people on bikes.

What will your claim be?

Claim it!: Hartland

Claim-It-Hartland_50J reaches over and takes the pen out of my hand when I ask the group of elementary students at Hartland, “What does it mean to claim something?” “It means this is now mine,” he says, and everyone laughs at his bold, and pretty accurate move.

It is one of those cool, big pens that has eight different colored inks inside and actually belongs to my daughter, so I have to “re-claim it.” But J is right, claiming is about ownership, assertions and senses of belonging and having. As a group we talk about how we can make our claims known to others and what happens when your claims are ignored. Throughout the summer and fall we will be at locations throughout the city asking for participants of all ages and neighborhoods to document their claims and respond to each other. It will be a mobile, visual conversation.

Claim-It-Hartland_12This is the list the Hartland kids come up with about things they claim:

  • To take or take back
  • Winning a prize
  • To own it
  • Territory
  • Personal space
  • Time
  • House
  • Country or countries
  • Food and the type of food you really want to eat
  • Bedrooms and living rooms
  • Video games and their stuff

The Launch of Claim It!


Claim– to assert ownership, stake a claim, delineate a space, demand recognition.

“I claim my name,” a seven-year-old art student asserts. She forms a house out of purple paper triangles. “What have you made?” I ask. She replies, “This is a building, these are rivers, this is a mountain, and this. . . is a water snake.” We both smile. And with that she’s claimed the 11×17 inch paper for her own; crafted buildings, water sources, and mountains. Her creativity demands recognition, even if it’s just from me, her art teacher.

In our Claim It! class at the Sorenson Unity Center – every Monday and Wednesday – YouthCity students find ways to Claim It! through art and the exploration of place and community. Partly funded by the National Endowment for the Arts: Our Town grant, the Civic Arts Studio @ Sorenson is a multi-year community art program that engages residents of the Glendale and Poplar Grove neighborhoods in activation and conversation around the key places in West Salt Lake. Working through a variety of civic engagement activities and co-creative programs, youth groups and residents will explore what it means to claim their neighborhood, its rich history, diverse cultures and current vitality. Claim it! will render it visible through site-specific art installation designs slated for specific “opportunity zones” identified in the new West Salt Lake Master Plan.

The posts in this blog will document these civic engagement activities and programs and the day-to-day discoveries students make with claiming the world around them. We hope you will enjoy the journey as we claim OurSLC!