Roadside Renaissance: Art Of The Painted Desert Project

Conceived by photographer/activist Chip Thomas, The Painted Desert Project connects urban street artists with communities in the southwest‘s Navajo Nation.




Chip Thomas (above) first set foot in Navajo Nation over 25 years ago when, as a newly-minted doctor, he decided the best way to repay his National Health Service Corps scholarship was by volunteering to serve a community with limited access to healthcare. Decades later, his roots are set deep into the stony desert soil.



Somewhat of a Renaissance Man, Dr. Thomas displays a very different skill set when he “becomes” Jetsonorama – a street artist whose favored medium is blown-up black-and-white photos applied to a range of outdoor structures.





Being as his home base is the Western Agency of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, Thomas’s subjects are the Navajo people and their traditional symbolism. “I’m just trying to reflect the positivity I have been allowed to experience from the people for the past 25 years,” explains Thomas. “It’s like I’m holding a mirror up and saying, ‘Thank you for letting me experience all this.’ And to the youth I’m saying, ‘Learn from this!'” Not corny at all, actually.