Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
Ever since I was a child I have been obsessed with graffiti. I could never draw or paint, so it wasn’t that I was wanting to go out and do it (something I assume my parents were grateful for), but it was an art I admired. Some of the most beautiful works of art I have ever seen have been on the side of buildings, tunnels, and train cars.
“The Painted Desert Project” is the brain child of Chip Thomas. Thomas, a street artist himself, has enlisted the help of many other artists in his project. These artists are brought to the Navajo Nation in hopes of turning full (or remnants) of structures into works of art that represent the community. They create pieces on sides of buildings, old billboards, water tanks, etc. to depict aspects of Navajo life, culture, and history.
There is no mention of the artists backgrounds in the article, something I find interesting. It seems that each artist has only a base knowledge of the Navajo until they arrive on site. I could see it being problematic that these works of art are being primarily created by people that are not from within the Navajo Nation. In the article, a situation is addressed where an artist created a piece that was deemed offensive to the community. The issue was addressed with the artist, and the work was altered.
Perhaps by keeping an open and active dialogue between the artists and the Navajo Nation this project continues without much tension. It seems to be a wonderful artistic and educational opportunity for all involved.