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What We Do To The Mountain, We Do To Ourselves

By Chip Thomas

Thursday, April 28, 2016 - Saturday, June 11, 2016

Artist Statement: In Flagstaff, Arizona, there is an effort on the part of the Navajo and Hopi tribes to not use reclaimed waste water on a local ski resort, the Snowbowl. The thirteen surrounding tribes hold the San Francisco Peaks as a sacred mountain and land. The tribes believe that deities within their respective cosmologies reside there. To use reclaimed wastewater is considered a desecration in a place where Indigenous people go regularly to pray, collect herbs and to be in the presence of the holy ones.

Artist Bio: A black doctor in his 50s working on the Navajo reservation, now, naturally, a street artist. Soon after Chip Thomas started practicing medicine on the Navajo reservation, the North Carolina native built his first darkroom and began to document reservation life with his camera. But in 2009, his art became not just of the community, but for it as well. He began wheatpasting enlarged images of his photos on abandoned roadside stands, water towers, and sheds under the moniker Jetsonorama, turning ramshackle walls into arresting black-and-white installations. Three years later, he launched the Painted Desert Project, and began inviting other street artists to spend a few weeks at the reservation and then create installations based on their experience. They are all, essentially, offering the Navajo a reflection of themselves, as seen through an artistic lens. In his own words, Thomas, who has become an internationally acclaimed artist with installations around the globe, describes his work in the context of his community.

Free and open to the public. Street level on the corner of Bryant Street at 24th Street


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