Out near the Grand Canyon in Southwest USA, Chip Thomas takes his photographs across three states and to great heights.
Urban environments are certainly not the only place for wheat pasting and contextual art. As it gets colder across the northern hemisphere, we gladly switch the focus to the American Southwest, where Chip Thomas is spreading his photographs on a grand scale across the Navajo Nation, capturing warmer moments and the western frontier.
Last year artists and photographers Yote, Step and Chip created "No Reservation Required Crew", canvasing the Arizona and New Mexico deserts with wheat pastes, accenting Navajo and American West themes. Rather than the usual urban setting for street art, the pieces stand out amongst a backdrop of colorful skies, barren desert and ranch stables.
FatCap caught up briefly with Chip to find out more about the work he does in collaboration with the rest of his crew. While he works in wheat paste, the corn stalks and raven that accent his pastes of Minnie & Lula, were done using linoleum block prints. They put this up for Indigenous People's Day in October 2009:
Accounts of wheat-pasting in the desert bring some new buildings to post up on, like rodeo announcer's stands, roadside pit-stops, and trading posts. There are some new and unique challenges. As he explains:
"for me, "good" weather is weather that isn't so cold that my hands freeze when i put them into wheat paste; it isn't so windy that my paper rips as it starts to unroll and it isn't raining or snowing. having said that, arizona has had 2 tornadoes in the past 4 months. what's up with that?" -tornado weather
It's actually a situation anyone that's pasted before can sympathize with, just on a grander scale. Of course, there's a lot of space to cover in the desert. Ninety-five percent of his installations are on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, though the reservation extends into 3 states (Arizona, Utah and New Mexico).
He pulls his photos from past decades, including images from past Navajo Nation Fairs. Chip documents most of his adventures on his site - yo mama! - including the adventures of pasting on cylindrical tanks and sneaking onto fair grounds to hang up art while the workers prepare the carnival rides! It's all a must-read for anyone interested in peaking inside the American West.