In the nine months since The Art of the Rural first appeared online, we have learned a great deal about the visionary and diverse kinds of art coming out of rural America. Today we would like to share an update on one of our favorite self-discoveries so far: Jetsonorama. Born in North Carolina, he came of age in the 1980's New York City hip-hop scene and later traveled through Africa (on bicycle) before moving to the Navajo nation to work as an Indian Health Services Physician.
In April we discussed his wheat paste projects that were appearing, with the help of native artists, on reservations across the southwest. It's a powerful medium: on one level, these are provocative site-specific installations, yet, on a more intimate level, these wheat pastes are portraits of a community that is both looking with reverence to the past and looking forward in the hopes of re-imagining their own place. Here is some new work:
Wesley Barrow's Last Portrait; Cedar Ridge, Arizona
Ben; Behind Chief Yellow Horse's roadside stand
Hank and Thelma; La Casa de Hugo Hernandez
Jetsonorama, under his given name of Chip Thomas, has also created a site for his photography. While many of black and white photos are the sources for the wheat paste images, they also capture--with a humanity that exceeds normal documentary photography--everyday life among the people he serves.
This photography site also contains a gallery of images from his travels in Africa as well as another of photographs from places in this country and abroad. If we consider the census work that has been featured on The Daily Yonder lately, then it seems wholly appropriate that these international influences should come to bear on his artwork in the Navajo Nation. In a moment when the traditional borders between city and country--and between cultures themselves--are becoming blurred, these photographs and wheat pastes stand as moving examples of a kind of rural art we should work toward in the coming years, one that refuses simple provincialisms yet celebrates local culture, one that accepts all the influences and voices projected--or wheat-pasted--within our familiar places.
Ring Around The Rosey
Postnuptial Dance Over Monument Valley As The Bride's Mom Looks On
Homemade Glasses, Homemade Canoe