Contemporary Arts Center
Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center
for Contemporary Art
44 E. 6th Street,
Cincinnati, OH 45202

513 345 8400


Chip Thomas and the Painted Desert Project

06 September

05 January

Exhibition Highlights

Exhibition Details

Chip Thomas is an American photographer, public artist, activist, and physician living in Arizona. In 1987, he moved to the Navajo Nation, between Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, to work as a physician. Simultaneously, he began photographing the Navajo people (Diné) and maintained a darkroom to develop his work. Soon after his arrival in Arizona, Thomas carried out a billboard “correction” on the Navajo reservation, replacing the word “Pepsi” with “Diabetes” in the phrase “Welcome to Pepsi Country,” in an effort to call out the effects of American capitalism on the landscape and the people of his new community.

Since 2009, Thomas has worked under the pseudonym jetsonorama, combining photography and traditions of street art, placing work on billboards and abandoned structures in the region as a way to celebrate the rich cultural history of the Navajo people. The exhibition includes examples of Thomas’ original, documentary-style photographs and their application as elements in public art, installation, film, and graphic media.

In 2012, Thomas developed the Painted Desert Project, a residency program in which he has invited street artists from around the world to explore and execute work in the desert landscape. More than 25 artists have participated over the past decade, enlivening the region’s public spaces with various distinct styles. A special sub-section of the exhibition includes work by a sampling of the Painted Desert artists, notably Daniel Josley, Stinkfish, and Icy & Sot.

A monograph, with an essay by Kevin Moore, accompanies the exhibition.

Curated by

Kevin Moore, Ph.D., FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator

Share this Page