Jetsonorama Honors the Junaluska Community in NC with Newly Wheatpasted History

Today we’re looking at a new piece from Jetsonorama (also known as Chip Thomas), a talented artist/activist/historian who has made a name for himself by pasting up photos of great historical and cultural significance in indigenous and African American communities, as well as throughout the broader American narrative.

What makes his installations particularly remarkable is how he repurposes unconventional spaces, whether urban or rural, to display these powerful black-and-white photographs on a larger-than-life scale. By pairing his striking imagery with rich narratives and compelling backstories, Thomas can give voice to these critical subjects in a deeply meaningful way to the communities who view them.

Chip Thomas is shown here talking with family members of Sam Horton Jr. and other folks in the community. Janaluska – Boone, NC. (photo © Mary Anne Redding)

Here we see his new piece as a warm gathering of the Junaluska community in Boone, North Carolina, recognized as one of the earliest African American communities in western North Carolina – one spanning from the 1800s to today.

Chip Thomas is shown here walking with his assistant Travis Donovan. Janaluska – Boone, NC. (photo © Mary Anne Redding)

“I was invited to learn this history last summer and to be a guest artist at Appalachian State University, which I did from April 15th – 24th,” says Thomas. “The image chosen for an installation in Junaluska comes from the early 1950s and is found in Keefe’s book. While installing it, a member of the community drove by and stopped to share with my assistant, TravisDonavan (art professor at ASU), that it was her mom who found this photo in her archives and shared it with Susan Keefe.”

Chip Thomas. Jamison Whittington plays by the mural depicting his great-grandfather, Sam Horton Jr. Janaluska – Boone, NC. (photo © Chip Thomas)

Chip Thomas would like to thank Sarah Donavan, Travis Donavan, Ron McCullum of Appalachian State University and Mary Anne Redding the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts for
making this project possible. Thank you also to the Junaluska Heritage Association for the
use of the image from the Chocolate Bar. #applachia #blackappalachia #junaluska

Screenshot from the book above by Susan E. Keefe showing the image chosen by Chip Thomas for his installation.
Chip Thomas. Janaluska – Boone, NC. (photo © Chip Thomas)
Chip Thomas. Janaluska – Boone, NC. (photo © Chip Thomas)