Mapping Identity and Community: The Art Truck

What is the Art Truck?

UMOCA’s Art Truck community outreach program brings art to K-12 Students throughout Utah. The traveling exhibition gives schools a chance to incorporate art into their curriculum without worrying about the expense of taking a fieldtrip to the museum. The 2016-2017 Art Truck mobile exhibition whereABOUTS features the work of artists Jaime Salvador Castillo and Michael Anthony García and explores the mapping of community, identity, and place with students across the state. Lined with maps of Utah made by Castillo and García, the Art Truck visited several schools, teaching K-12 students about how place and community shape an individual’s identity. Led by museum educator Madeline Savarese, UMOCA’s Education facilitator, students created their own maps of places in their community and of their individual identity, and added them to the interior of the Art Truck.

The whereABOUTS exhibition is important in helping students recognize both the impact of their community on their identity, but also their individual impact on the community. The student-generated maps collaged inside the Art Truck testify of the importance of each voice within a community and the beauty that results from preserving that individuality. whereABOUTS helps educators facilitate discussions about tolerance, diversity, and community engagement, using contemporary art as way of framing these difficult issues. The Art Truck seeks to make contemporary art accessible for students of all ages and offers Utah educators new ways of approaching various topics through art-making activities.

Mapping Identity

whereABOUTS offers a collective visual exploration of community and inserts the individual into a larger social context.  At the beginning of the school year, altered maps of Utah by Castillo and García lined the inside of the Art Truck. Slowly, throughout the year, students added art maps of their communities, neighborhoods, and identities to Castillo and García’s, and with each new map the truck came to represent the unique communities that make up the state of Utah.

The student-generated maps create a collective visual exploration of community and insert the individual into a larger social context. Visualizing space in an individual manner allows students to articulate their identity in relation to the spaces they occupy. Identity consists of an agglomeration of personal traits, family heritage, culture, politics, and community, all of which are impacted by geographic location. As students compared their maps with each other, they expressed their surprise at how differently they see their neighborhood than their friends. How an individual experiences their nationality, race, natural environment, or gender can connect them within their community, family units and social circles. Identity is never fixed, but it is ever-changing and evolving as one experiences new places, ideas and people. Similarly, the interior of the Art Truck constantly changes, as new maps are added and some are covered up, creating an ever-expanding and remarkably diverse representation of Utah.

About the Artists

Jaime Castillo (left) and Michael Anthony García (right).

Jaime Castillo (left) and Michael Anthony García (right).

Michael Anthony García is a multidisciplinary artist working out of Austin, Texas. His work most often consists of found-object sculpture, installation, and performance art. He has also won awards for his curatorial work for large-scale national and international exhibitions. Jaime Salvador Castillo is an independent curator also working out of Austin. He is currently the Arts Commissioner of District 2 for the city of Austin and in his spare time, he writes art reviews for The Austin Chronicle.

Castillo and García regularly collaborate on art and curatorial projects. In their collaboration, Castillo and García use projects as a platform to explore issues of gentrification and a disappearing community of minorities and open dialogue between artists and the community.  In 2007, the pair formed the curatorial collective Los Outsiders. Still active today, Los Outsiders offers local, national, and international artists a platform and opportunities for community engagement through podcasts, symposiums, and exhibitions.

The Art Truck provides a unique experience for students to engage individually with contemporary art. The whereABOUTS project initiates conversations about community engagement and allows students to express their identity in new ways. Don’t miss the concluding exhibition of student and community art maps from the 2016-2017 Art Truck tours opening on August 12, 2017 in the UMOCA’s Ed. Space. Watch for more details in our editorials or on our website and social media.

To schedule the Art Truck for your school or organization or for more information, please contact

–Allison Pinegar