A People’s Atlas of Nuclear Colorado

Screenshot showing a website homepage. The header reads "A People's Atlas of Nuclear Colorado," and links including "Introduction," "The Earth/Whose Earth?," "Extraction/Overburden," and "Refining/Exposure" are aligned on either end of a transit-map-type line. There is a bookmark link, a search button, and a hamburger menu in the upper right hand corder. The background image shows a black and white art collage showing hands superimposed in the sky and holding a bright light.
Screenshot of homepage for A People’s Atlas of Nuclear Colorado, edited by Sarah Kanouse and Shiloh Krupar

A People’s Atlas of the Nuclear Colorado is a digital public humanities project that documents and interprets the relational geographies of nuclear materials developed and deployed by the United States. With contributions by scholars, students, and artists, the Atlas offers the public an opportunity to explore, research, and document nuclear materials and ecologies of Colorado.

Powered by the Scalar publishing platform, the Atlas is loosely organized around the nuclear fuel cycle, from extraction, milling, and processing to the assembly and deployment of weapons to the storage and monitoring of waste. It challenges, however, conventional models of this process by weaving in its “shadow side:” environmental contamination, workplace exposures, boom and bust economies, geopolitical instability. Navigable both by browsing thematic paths and searching by keyword, the Atlas is structured to articulate scalar relationships—between the local and the planetary, between policy and the personal. It presents cartographic, textual and image-based information on nuclear processes in order to foster active interpretation and meaning-making on the part of its users. The Atlas seeks to be a living document that infuses discussion about nuclear policy and memory with humanistic forms of inquiry and public engagement.

Select Media and Events

Interview with Shiloh Krupar by Gabriella Gricius and Bridgett Neff-Hickman, Disrupt Podcast, November 30, 2021.

Georgetown University, Mortara Center for International Studies, “Spatial Justice as Research Practice,” panel with Hokulani K Aikau, Alex Gil, Vernadette V Gonzalez, Sarah Kanouse, and Shiloh Krupar, chaired by Arjun Shankar with respondent Joanna Guldi, September 21, 2021.

Northeastern University, Center for Maps, Texts, and Networks, “At People’s Atlas of Nuclear Colorado,” panel co-chaired by Sarah Kanouse and Shiloh Krupar, with Atlas contributors Stephanie Malin, Abbey Hepner, Mallory Quetawki, Jen Richter, Gretchen Heefner, Nareg Kuyumjian, Marion Hourdequin, Yuki Miyamoto, and Kate Chandler.

Interview by Kyveli Mavrokordopolou, “Spotting Radioactive Hot Spots” Ecoes 1 (2021): 80-91.


Kanouse, Sarah and Shiloh Krupar, eds. “A People’s Atlas of Nuclear Colorado,” www.coloradonuclearatlas.org, 2021-. Funded in part by Georgetown  University.

Critical Daytrips: Tourism and Land-Based Practice

In recent years a number of artists have produced works that are tours or ask the viewer to become a tourist. Much of this work presents itself as ‘critical,’ despite decades of scholarship examining tourism as a means of shoring up social class membership, naturalizing ideas of national patrimony, reinforcing the centrality of the Western gaze, and reproducing images of the exotic Other. This paper explores how touristic forms might be deployed in an oppositional, self-reflexive way that is responsive to how the experience of tourism is mediated by politics, economics, and cultural frameworks. For all the ways that conventional touristic learning might be superficial, marketized, and insulated by privilege, tourism is one cultural site where people expect to learn and seek out new knowledge about place. As such, tourism—both as an art and leisure pursuit—has rich potential as a form of performative, place-based pedagogy.

Kanouse, Sarah. “Critical Daytrips.” In Emily Eliza Scott and Kirsten J. Swenson, eds. Critical Landscapes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015, 43-56.

Notes on Affective Practice: An Exchange

Over the last several years, a loose and shifting group of artists, activists, and thinkers has been exploring and creating work about the various forces, both top-down and grassroots, that shape neighborhoods, cities, and rural places in the globalized American Midwest. The Compass, as we are known, is a collective project of understanding where we are located—geographically, historically, culturally, economically, and ecologically—and of inhabiting, traversing, building and narrating what we call the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor. In this experimental, epistolary essay—part anecdote, part theory, part conversation—two Compass participants critically reflect on the group’s methods and collaborative structure. We analyze the micropolitics of our annual summer drifts and winter retreats in light of militant research, critical tourism, affective activism, and a politics of love.

Kanouse, Sarah and Heath Schultz, “Notes on Affective Practice: An Exchange,” Parallax 19:2 (2013) pp 7-20.

Download as PDF

A Post-Naturalist Field Kit

For nearly two hundred years, the figure of the naturalist—the enthusiastic observer of birds, soils, insects, plants, and animals—set the bar for dedicated, non-professional scholarship of the non-human world. With his sketchbook, butterfly net, binoculars, and field guides, the naturalist went “into the field” to learn nature’s secrets through patient observation. But recent scholarship in the sciences and humanities has revealed that “the field” cannot be considered apart from the human world that shapes and imagines it. Taking its cue from the study of social nature, “A Post-Naturalist Field Kit” is an art project that updates the figure of the naturalist for the exploration of post-natural urban landscapes. The project includes artifacts for exploring environmental issues in the city—from specimen jars to do-it-yourself air quality monitors and lead contamination tests— along with activity cards that refuse to draw lines between social, economic, and environmental issues. Drawing on Fluxus game kits and recent environmental art, “A Post-Naturalist Field Kit” offers tools for the embodied exploration of urban social ecologies. This article describes and contextualizes the project in light of relevant areas of creative practice and geographical thought.

Kanouse, Sarah, “A Post-Naturalist Field Kit: tools for the embodied exploration of social ecologies,” in Sébastien Cacquard, William Cartwright, and Laurene Vaughan, eds. Mapping Environmental Issues in the City (Heidelberg: Springer, 2011), 160-177.

Download PDF: A Post-Naturalist Field Kit

America’s Heart of Hearts Tour

Campy image of corn ears growing above the St. Louis Arch
Promotion image for alternative tour, 2011

While the global reach of the United States military is well-known, the ways it has shaped the interior geography of the country is more obscure—even to many Americans. Get a fresh perspective on the Heartland by touring the domestic sites that helped to produce America’s military might, and you may catch a glimpse of the nation’s future.

The centerpiece of your four day/three night stay in the Heartland states of Missouri and Illinois will be the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, a fascinating and lovely natural area created on a former US Army ammunition plant. A private defense contractor still uses the refuge to manufacture munitions, and the thorough clean-up of contamination stemming from these and other industrial operations is ongoing. Crab Orchard boasts recreation facilities for boating, hunting, fishing, hiking and wildlife observation. Crab Orchard will be your base for day trips into other military sites in scenic southern Illinois, including civil war sites, the ruins of a World War II prisoner of war facility, and a military boot camp for convicts. You’ll fly into and out of St. Louis, affording side trips to the Museum of Westward Expansion, Scott Air Force Base and the corporate headquarters of Monsanto, the agribusiness giant whose herbicide Agent Orange was used as a weapon in the Vietnam War.


Beijing, China – Homeshop, 2011


Sarah Kanouse, “America’s Heart of Hearts Tour,” in Dan S. Wang and Stephanie Rothenberg’s “The Journey West,” site-specific intervention in Beijing, China, 2011

A Post-Naturalist Field Kit for Saint-Henri

Wood box with multiple partitions and instruments
A Post-Naturalist Field Kit (detail)

“A Post-Naturalist Field Kit” updates the naturalist’s toolbox for the exploration of the social ecologies of urban landscapes. The project includes artifacts for exploring environmental issues in the city — from specimen jars to do-it-yourself air quality monitors — along with cards that prompt users to consider relationships among social, economic, and ecological issues.


Post-Naturalist Cards

Post-Naturalist Field Kit Overview


Download as PDF: Post-Naturalist Field Kit Cards

Download as PDF: Pamphlet on Saint-Henri


East Lansing, MI – (Scene) Metrospace Gallery
Detroit, MI – University of Michigan, work●detroit gallery
Montreal, Canada – Concordia University, Arts & Cartography Workshop


Sarah Kanouse, “A Post-Naturalist Field Kit for Saint-Henri,” 2010

America Ponds

“America Ponds” is a 46-minute alternative audio tour of Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge created for Stories in Reserve, a box set of three artist-produced audio tours of unusual sites in North America released by the Temporary Travel Office in 2010.

Located in southernmost Illinois, Crab Orchard is the result of a half-century of economic development efforts directed at this sparsely populated, rural part of the state. Its three lakes were designed and built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, and the Refuge itself was established in 1947 on the site of a shuttered munitions plant. Today, Crab Orchard’s mission includes hosting industrial facilities, and companies producing everything from highlighters to high-caliber ammunition have taken up residence in the wildlife refuge. Fifty years of heavy manufacturing have taken a heavy toll on the place. Since the 1980s, Crab Orchard has been on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List—better known as Superfund—which outlines and monitors a clean-up process for the most severely contaminated sites in the United States. Rather than concealing Crab Orchard’s resolutely cultural and political existence, this tour highlights it.  Traveling here is an invitation to think through complexity, to feel our way through contradiction, and to come up with a concept more honest and useful than ‘nature’ to describe the myriad ways we exist with and within the non-human world.


Download entire audio tour as zipped mp3s: America Ponds


America Ponds Installation View
Listening station with touchscreen interface for gallery presentation.

Screenshot of touchscreen interface
Still from touchscreen interface from gallery listening station.

Exhibitions and Presentations

New York, NY – CUNY Graduate Center, James Gallery, 2011
Davenport, IA – Figge Art Museum, “University of Iowa Faculty Biennial,” 2011
Los Angeles, CA – Betalevel, 2010
Palos Heights, IL – Trinity Christian College, Seerveld Gallery, 2010
Chicago, IL – Green Lantern Gallery, 2010
Vancouver, Canada – Emily Carr University READ Bookstore, 2010


2010 New York Art Book Fair, MOMA PS1
Half Letter Press
Journal Press


Chicago, IL – Museum of Contemporary Art, Artist’s Books and Sound (in process)


Sarah Kanouse, “America Ponds,” 46-minute audio tour released on CD and mp3, 2010

Touring the Archive, Archiving the Tour

Based in Los Angeles, the Center for Land Use Interpretation describes itself as an independent, non-profit, educational organization “dedicated to the increase and diffusion of information about how the nation’s lands are apportioned, utilized, and perceived.” Through exhibits, publications, bus tours, an online database, and an artists’ residency program, CLUI has crafted a visually coherent and unaffected set of presentation and interpretive strategies drawn from the places where tourism, the archive, museum educational displays, and conceptual art intersect. While the organization refuses to state a clear position for or against particular ways land has been used, its body of work resists the notion that certain landscapes, especially ugly or utilitarian ones, are either unremarkable or inevitable.

Kanouse, Sarah, “Touring the Archive, Archiving the Tour,” Art Journal 64(2): 78-87.

Download PDF: Touring the Archive, Archiving the Tour