Chip Thomas “La Isla Memory Project” in a One-Room Schoolhouse

Street Artists have a natural affinity for abandoned places. Sometimes they wander through them to find the right spot to create a piece. Other times they wonder who used to live here. Who used to work here. Where are they now. You may never learn the truth, but you can rely upon your observation skills – and the stories of others. Sometimes you meet someone who used to inhabit it.

Chip Thomas. Norma Romero. (photo © Chip Thomas)

This one room school house was built in the 1930s, according to artist Chip Thomas, and was used until 1959. More than six decades later, the Street Artist/Installation artist interviewed people here in the community of La Isla in southern Colorado to learn about their heritage. Many are descendants of the Spanish who passed through during the last few centuries, commandeering, trading with, and enslaving Native Americans.

Chip says he installed images of people who attended this one room schoolhouse, some of them wheatpasted, others fluttering in breezes over the dirt floor. A simple structure, it is still full of many memories for some who live in the area.

Chip Thomas. Norma Romero. (photo © Chip Thomas)

“It’s a gorgeous spot,” he says of the San Luis Valley. “It’s at about 7,800 feet above sea level and the valley is 122 miles long and 74 miles wide.” In the images are old and new portaits of students who went there. He calls it the “La Isla Memory Project.”

Chip Thomas. Norma Romero. (photo © Chip Thomas)
Chip Thomas. Norma Romero. (photo © Chip Thomas)
Chip Thomas. Cletus. (photo © Chip Thomas)
Chip Thomas. Walter Perea. (photo © Chip Thomas)
Chip Thomas. La Isla. (photo © Chip Thomas)
Chip Thomas (photo © Chip Thomas)