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

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

Native Resurgence

Detail of black and white map
Native Resurgence Map Graphic

Native Resurgence” is a map and primer to sites of Native American resistance and ingenuity in the upper Midwest since the 1970s. Our goals are threefold. First, we want to place Native stories firmly in the center of our narrative; they too often occupy a position peripheral to the concerns of urban progressives and radicals. Second, we want to highlight successful examples of recent Native activism and tribal development, since stories of all-too-real victimization and discrimination tend to be the ones that most readily spring to the minds of politically conscious non-Natives. Finally, we hope that focusing on Midwestern Native politics might productively unsettle familiar narratives of Chicago’s urban processes, placing them in relation to a longer history of colonialism and dispossession, but also endurance and evolution.

From longstanding organizations such as the American Indian Center of Chicago—the nation’s oldest urban Indian center—to fleeting events such as the American Indian Chicago Conference of 1961 and the occupations at Chicago Indian Village, Belmont Harbor and Argonne National Laboratories in the early 1970s, Chicago itself has a rich history of Native survivance–the joint processes of survival and resistance. The implications of this history—what it enables us to do in a historical present haunted by racism and colonialism—become more clear when Chicago is de-centered from its position as the de facto capital of the Midwest and re-situated in a larger regional context. Not only will this dissolve the false dichotomy between urban and rural but, for our purposes, it allows us to begin seeing this land—from the Calumet River to Lac du Flambeau—for what it is: Indian Country.

Download as PDF: Native Resurgence Map


Kanouse, Sarah and Nicholas Brown, “Native Resurgence,” original print map collecting sites of Native American “survivance” since 1970, published in AREA: Art Research Education Activism, Vol. 9, Fall 2009 (special insert). Also selected for “10 AREAs/5 Years,” a publication retrospective for the US Social Forum

Region from Below: Power Plants

Installation at "Heartland" exhibition at the Smart Museum of Art, 2009
Installation View, Region From Below

Region From Below: Power Plants maps the coal and corn carbon economies in the Midwest region. It features four pop-out stories detailing alternatives to the corn- and coal-shed and spotlighting places where coal and corn come together. The original map is installed with historical maps that describe other geographical imaginations of the region. In addition to the maps, a take-home ‘quiz’ asks questions from the factual to the fanciful to help readers re-orient themselves to these resources.


Download PDF of map: Region From Below


Installation at Smart Museum, 2009
Installation at the Smart Museum, 2009
Two-sided card available as takeaway to gallery visitors.
Two-sided card available as takeaway to gallery visitors.


AREA: Art Research Education Activism, Vol. 9, Fall 2009 (special insert)


Buffalo, NY – University at Buffalo Art Gallery, “Precious Cargo”

Chicago, IL – Mess Hall, “Collectivism After Collapse”

Chicago, IL – Smart Museum, “Heartland”


Compass, “The Region from Below: Power Plants”, 2009

Going Downstate

Detail, Going Downstate map

Going Downstate” is a counter-map of the Illinois state prison system with photographs (by Lauren Shrensel-Zadikow) and information on tax structure, costs, per capital income, traveling distance and demographics.


Download as PDF: Going Downstate


Chicago, IL – Museum of Contemporary Art, “Mapping the Self”

Chicago, IL – Gallery 400, “An Atlas of Radical Cartography”

Chicago, IL – Hyde Park Art Center, “Pedagogical Factory”


Chicago, IL – Museum of Contemporary Art, Artist’s Books and Sound


Kanouse, Sarah and Lauren Shrensel-Zadikow, “Going Downstate,” AREA: Art Research Education Activism, Vol. 4 (2007) page 20.

Chasing Billy Caldwell

Part biography of an obscure early Chicago settler, part meditation on history and memory, identity and loyalty, landscape and amnesia.


Select Screenings

Ann Arbor, MI – The Gallery Project

San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Art Institute

New York, NY – Barnard College, WCA Video Shorts Festival

Carbondale, IL – Southern Illinois University


Sarah Kanouse, “Chasing Billy Caldwell,” HDV video, 7 min 44 sec, 2006

ISP Bloomington

ISP Bloomington was a site-specific transmission performance for the campus of Indiana University meditating on the relationships between education, incarceration, and speech.


Carbondale, IL – University Museum, “Combined Faculty Exhibition”

Bloomington, IN – Indiana University SOFA Gallery, “Perform.Media”


Kanouse, Sarah, “ISP Bloomington,” 2006