All posts tagged: Navajo Nation

Jetsonorama Tells “Stories From Ground Zero”

Jetsonorama Tells “Stories From Ground Zero”

This spill and these events did not happen in San Diego, or Palm Beach. The story doesn’t affect wealthy white families and cannot be used to sell shampoo or real estate. That’s probably why we don’t see it in the press and never on the talking-head news. Street Artist Jetsonorama is not only a photographer who has been wheat-pasting his stunning images of people and nature on desert buildings for over a decade, he is also a doctor on the Navajo reservation, a human-rights activist, and an erudite scholar of American history as it pertains to the poisoning of this land and these people. Today we’re pleased to bring you this long-form examination from Jetsonorama’s perspective on a complicated and tragic US story of environmental poisoning and blight that affects generations of native peoples, miners, military personnel, and everyday people – and has no end in sight.

Most alarming is the news that current White House administration is endeavoring to mine uranium here again.

JC with her younger sister, Gracie (who is a NBCS participant).  (photo © Jetsonorama)

Stories from Ground Zero

Text by Jetsonorama

July 16, 1945 was an auspicious day in the history of humankind and the planet as the US Army’s Manhattan Project detonated Trinity, the first atomic bomb, in Jornada del Muerto, NM.  (“Jornada del Muerto” fittingly translates as “Journey of the Dead Man” or “Working Day of the Dead.”)  July 16 is also the day of one of the worst nuclear accidents in US history with the Church Rock, NM uranium tailings spill in 1979 on the Navajo nation (occurring 5 months after the nuclear reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island).

Larry King, a Church Rock resident who was an underground surveyor at the Church Rock Uranium mine at the time the dam failed in 1979, speaks to a group of anti-uranium activists on the 40th anniversary of the spill, July 16, 1979.  Activists were present from Japan and across the U.S (photo © Jetsonorama)

An earthen dam holding uranium tailings and other toxic waste ruptured releasing 1,100 tons of uranium waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive water into the Rio Puerco and through Navajo lands.  Sheep in the wash keeled over and died as did crops along the river bank.  According to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report the levels of radioactivity in the Rio Puerco near the breached dam were 7000 times that of what is allowed in drinking water.

In an effort to end WWII and to beat the Soviets in developing a hydrogen bomb, uranium mining under the Manhattan Project began on Navajo and Lakota lands in 1944.  Two years later management of the program was transferred to the US Atomic Energy Commission.  The Navajo nation provided the bulk of the country’s uranium ore for our nuclear arsenal until uranium prices dropped in the mid 80s and is largely responsible for our winning the Cold War.

Larry King. Church Rock. (photo © Jetsonorama)

However, environmental regulation for mining the ore was nonexistent in the period prior to the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.  During this time uranium mining endangered thousands of Navajo workers in addition to producing contamination that persists in adversely affecting air and water quality and contaminating Navajo lands with over 500 abandoned, unsealed former mine sites.

Private companies hired thousands of Navajo men to work the uranium mines and disregarded recommendations to protect miners and mill workers. In 1950 the U.S. Public Health Service began a human testing experiment on Navajo miners without their informed consent during the federal government’s study of the long-term health effects from radiation poisoning.  This study followed the same violation of human rights protocol as the US Public Health Service study on the long-term effects of syphilis on humans by experimenting on non-consenting African American men in what is known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment from 1932 – 1972.

JC and Gracie (photo © Jetsonorama)

In May 1952 the Public Health Service and the Colorado Health Department publish a paper called “An interim Report of a Health Study of the Uranium Mines and Mils.” 

The report noted that levels of radioactive radon gas and radon particles (known as “radon daughters”), were so high in reservation mines that they recommended wetting down rocks while drilling to reduce dust which the miners breathed; giving respirators to the workers; mandating daily showers after a work shift, frequent changes of clothing, loading rocks into wagons immediately after being chipped from the wall to decrease time for radon to escape and for miners to receive pre-employment physicals.  Sadly, the recommendations were ignored.

Activist + community organizer, Leona Morgan, of Nuclear Issues Study Group, Diné No Nukes and the Radiation Monitoring Project spoke at the Church Rock 40th Anniversary commemoration.  She noted “The Church Rock Chapter of the Navajo Nation passed a resolution in July 2018 opposing the storage and transport of high-level nuclear waste from nuclear power reactors across the country through the local community along the railroad track. There are two proposals for nuclear waste storage of irradiated fuel from power reactors, which are going through the neighborhood process as part of the application for a license from the United States nuclear regulatory commission. The Navajo nation currently has a ban on transportation of radioactive materials unless it’s for cleanup of legacy waste from uranium mining or milling for medical purposes.  However, the Navajo nation‘s jurisdiction does not extend to state and federal roads and railways. Still there is a need for protection from further contamination of radioactive materials within the homeland of Diné peoples.” (photo © Jetsonorama)

By 1960 the Public Health Service definitely declared that uranium miners faced an elevated risk of pulmonary cancer.  However, it wasn’t until June 10, 1967 that the Secretary of Labor issued a regulation declaring that “…no uranium miner could be exposed to radon levels that would induce a higher risk of cancer than that faced by the general population.”  By this time, it was too late.  In the 15 years after the uranium boom the cancer death rate among the Diné doubled from the early 1970s to the late 1990s while the overall U.S. cancer death rate declined during this same interval.

As high rates of illness began to occur workers were frequently unsuccessful in court cases seeking compensation.  In 1990 Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act which seeks to make compensation available to persons exposed to fallout from nuclear weapons testing and for living uranium miners, mill workers or their survivors who had worked in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona between January 1, 1947 and December 31, 1971.  An amendment to this bill is awaiting Congress after its recess that will expand years of coverage from 1971 to the mid 1990s as well as expanding the regions of the US covered.

Harvey Speck (photo © Jetsonorama)

At the other end of the life spectrum the Navajo Birth Cohort Study is the first prospective epidemiologic study of pregnancy and neonatal outcomes in a uranium-exposed population.  The goal of the Navajo Birth Cohort Study (NBCS) is to better understand the relationship between uranium exposures and birth outcomes and early developmental delays on the Navajo Nation.  It started in 2014 and has funding through 2024.

The text around JC + Gracie reads “The Navajo Nation encompasses more than 27,000 square miles across three states – New Mexico, Utah + Arizona – and is the largest home for indigenous people in the U.S.  From 1944 to 1986 hundreds of uranium and milling operations extracted an estimated 400 million tons of uranium ore from Diné (Navajo) lands.  These mining + processing operations have left a legacy of potential exposures to uranium waste from abandoned mines/mills, homes and other structures built with mining waste which impacts the drinking water, livestock + humans.”
“As a heavy metal, uranium primarily damages the kidneys + urinary system.  While there have been many studies of environmental + occupational exposure to uranium and associated renal effects in adults, there have been very few studies of other adverse health effects.  In 2010 the University of New Mexico partnered with the Navajo Area Indian Health Service and Navajo Division of Health to evaluate the association between environmental contaminants + reproductive birth outcomes.”
“This investigation is called the Navajo Birth Cohort Study and will follow children for 7 years from birth to early childhood.  Chemical exposure, stress, sleep, diet + their effects on the children’s physical, cognitive + emotional development will be studied.” (photo © Jetsonorama)

Efforts to mine uranium adjacent to the Grand Canyon have accelerated during the Trump administration.  The most pressing threat comes from Canyon Mine located closely to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Because of the plethora of abandoned mines on the reservation the Navajo Nation banned uranium mining on the reservation in 2005. 

However, it’s possible still to transport ore from off the reservation across the reservation.  Approximately 180 miles of the Canyon Mine haul route would cross the Navajo Nation where trucks hauling ore had 2 separate accidents in 1987.

“Everybody is afraid of nuclear war.  Are they not waging nuclear war when the miners die from cancer from mining the uranium?”  John Trudell (Cyndy Begay holding a photo of her dad.) (photo © Jetsonorama)
T Shirt for Uranium Survivors (photo © Jetsonorama)
DOE Map from 2014
South Canyon mine. (photo courtesy of Jetsonorama)

For more information on these and other uranium related issues at Ground Zero, check:

  1. www.facebook.com/nuclearissuesstudygroup/
  2. www.radmonitoring.org
  3. www.facebook.com/NIRSnet
  4. www.facebook.com/NukeWatch.NM
  5. www.indigenousaction.org
  6. www.grandcanyontrust.org
  7. www.stopcanyonmine.org

Additional links that further the story:

https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/ne8w4x/church-rock-americas-forgotten-nuclear-disaster-is-still-poisoning-navajo-lands-40-years-later

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Raising Yellowcake in Grand Canyon: Icy & Sot, Jetsonorama in Arizona

Raising Yellowcake in Grand Canyon: Icy & Sot, Jetsonorama in Arizona

Yellow Cake: A simple sweet dessert confection that gets its signature color from 8 egg yolks and a cup of butter, and is great with either vanilla or chocolate icing.

Yellowcake: A type of uranium concentrate powder obtained from leach solutions, in an intermediate step in the processing of uranium ores. Also, its radioactive. Also, Colin Powell showed off a vial of it at the United Nations to sell the Iraq invasion in 2003 to that body and the world.

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Icy & Sot. “Nuclear Plant” Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2017. (photo © Icy & Sot)

Being more knowledgeable about the dessert variety of yellow cake than the desert variety of uranium contamination, we turn to Street Artists Jetsonorama and Icy & Sot to educate us about the active uranium mines that are at the North Rim of The Grand Canyon. The three worked jointly in June to create new public works addressing the topic and we have each of them here for you to see.

“The issue of uranium contamination and nuclear waste is timely as there is an active uranium mine at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon presently and a proposal to start mining at the South Rim,” explains Jetsonorama (Chip Thomas), who is a local artist, a practicing doctor, and a social activist advocating for the people who live on the reservation and the natural environment in general.

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Icy & Sot on a roadside billboard. “Radioactive Pollution Kills. It’s Time To Clean Up The Mines”. Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

For the last few summers Thomas has been hosting “The Painted Desert Project”, a selection of national and international Street Artists to create works in this region that respond to the communities, history, and geography of this part of Arizona and the Navajo Nation,

It would appear that the introduction of such contamination into communities, national monuments like the Grand Canyon, or local water supplies – whether by design or negligence – would be considered a provocative act by any rational person. So too is this series of art interventions by Icy & Sot meant to be provocative. The brothers, for example, attached the “Radioactive” symbol onto the branches of a tree overlooking the canyon to dramatize the integral effect that such poisoning is having on natural elements.

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Icy & Sot.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

In two video performances recorded onsite in the desert the visuals are much stronger, including a typical consumer floor fan you could pick up at the local Best Buy store that is blowing radioactivity freely in the same way that desert winds are carrying radioactive dusts from many sites across the land. The second performance sees a jump-suited figure unceremoniously dumping a Yellow Cake, presumably made of yellowcake, upside down onto an American flag that is draped across a card table in the open desert – leaving a messy affair that is not easily cleaned up – and then walking away.

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Icy & Sot.  A still from the making of “No More Yellowcake”. Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

“There are over 500 abandoned uranium mines on The Navajo Reservation and more than 80% of the mine sites have not been cleaned up,” says Sot when describing the issues they are addressing with their new works. “There are currently no federal laws that require clean up of these hazardous sites and they continue to pose significant danger to the Navajo people.”

“In a region with an unemployment rate around 50% investment by private industry is hampered by not being able to build around these contaminated lands,” says Jetsonorama, “While Icy & Sot chose largely ephemeral installations to dramatize the situation of uranium contamination, I chose installations focusing on the subtle, insidious effect of living, working, playing on contaminated land.”

A statement accompanying the video:

“No More Yellowcake” 

“Yellowcake is a product of uranium mining. Many Navajo people worked at the mines, often living and raising families in close proximity; they were unknowingly exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and chemicals. Uranium mining and yellowcake processing continues today and threatens the environment and the health of communities across the U.S.” Icy & Sot

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Icy & Sot.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

“The Killing Wind” 

“Toxic radioactive particles left over from abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land take the form of dust which travels with the wind for hundreds of miles. It can be inhaled or blow into streams or onto nearby ground spreading radioactive contamination.” Icy & Sot


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Icy & Sot. “Contaminated Land” references the drinking water supplies of the western U.S., much of which is fed through the Colorado River. Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

Using a more subtle approach to the topics at hand, you’ll see Jetsonorama’s photographic image of “radioactive” green sheep, an image of girl on a home-made swing, and a local guy named Jamison feeding his dog on contaminated land that he says is “near AUM.” The artist explains that AUM stands for Abandoned Uranium Mines and then shows us a link to a map that contains record of 521 such sites scattered across the land in this region.

We noted previously in an article about Jetsonorama’s work that the New York Times did a story about this area in 2012 entitled “Uranium Mines Dot Navajo Land, Neglected and Still Perilous,” but very little appears to have changed as a result of it. Says Jetsonorama, “There are still over 500 abandoned uranium mines on the reservation spewing alpha, beta and gamma radiation contaminating land, water, animals and humans.”

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Jetsonorama. Gamma Goat.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

In describing their various stencil works and installations in the area, Icy & Sot told us they were struck by the lack of knowledge of the local community who in danger of being exposed to these deadly and sickening man-made disasters.

“The Navajo people did not have a word for radioactivity and did not know about the dangers of radiation in the 1940s when mining companies began surveying their land,” they said in a statement. “Today the mines are closed but their toxic legacy persist in contaminated soil and drinking water with elevated levels of radiation.”

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Jetsonorama. Cow Springs.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

The government has created an education program aimed at kid wandering or playing near such radiation sites, including a new cartoon character named “Gamma Goat”. It may capture the imagination of a youth and deter them from inadvertently exposing themselves to this multitude of sites, many poorly marked and not guarded or sufficiently protected.

“There is an insightful documentary on uranium contamination on the Navajo nation by a young Navajo woman called ‘Yellow Fever’ which refers to the illness uranium workers would get that is characterized by flu-like symptoms,” Jetsonorama tells us. “In the film the filmmaker talks of recent efforts by the EPA to educate children living on the reservation to the dangers of uranium exposure.  To this end the EPA developed a comic book/coloring book the protagonist of which is called “Gamma Goat” who warns kids to stay away from abandoned mine sites.”

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Jetsonorama. JC at Cow Springs.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jetsonorama. Jamison on the White House.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Artist Unknown. A water well that someone has warn neighbors they should not draw from. Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

 

Thank you to Chip Thomas AKA Jetsonorama and Icy & Sot for sharing with us their photos and videos and for helping us describe the project for BSA readers.

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Everyday Magic In The Navajo Nation with Stinkfish, Grafica Mazatl, and Killjoy Press.

Everyday Magic In The Navajo Nation with Stinkfish, Grafica Mazatl, and Killjoy Press.

Who is your muse? Most artists have one, or a few. The portraits that Street Artists leave on walls usually have a story behind them, a personal connection to the figure depicted. The Bogata based Stinkfish began doing graffiti and Street Art in 2003 and has focused his portraits on anonymous people he sees in streets or public spaces – usually without them knowing he has captured their expression while they are in the midst of daily life.

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

Creating these images usually only once, they impart their own personal story and create a new narrative when placed into an entirely original location – often in a city far from where they live. Using techniques of stencil, graphic design, and more traditional freestyling aersol graffiti, Stinkfish elaborates on an initial idea and allows it to take on a life of its own. By translating a daily life from one location to another context entirely, Stinkfish highlights our common ground, our shared humanity.

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

In September Stinkfish and two other artists worked collaboratively on three walls on or near the Navajo Nation courtesy of their host Chip Thomas (Jetsonorama). Stinkfish, Grafica Mazatl and Killjoy Press all intermingled their respective styles and visual vocabulary on structures in the desert – always collaborating with the vast sky all around them.

The sites include an abandoned trailer in Gray Mountain, Arizona which is about a mile away from the southwestern border of the Navajo nation. The remaining sites are on the Navajo nation and include the 89/160 junction near Tuba City and the Crossroads. Together the three created new works that are inspired by their immediate surroundings while bringing their own muses and travels with them.

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Original photo from Phnom Penh, Cambodia in March 2015 by Stinkfish (©Stinkfish)

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Mazatl at work. Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jess X Chen)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Original photo from Malmo, Sweden in August 2014 by Stinkfish (©Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. 89/160 Junction. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. 89/160 Junction. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Original photo from Gulf of Gabes, Tunisia during his time there for the Djerbahood project in August 2014 by Stinkfish (©Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. 89/160 Junction. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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LOLA, Atomic Sheep Dog Drinking from the Uranium Mine Per Jetsonorama

LOLA, Atomic Sheep Dog Drinking from the Uranium Mine Per Jetsonorama

A shepherd needs a good sheep dog on the reservation in Arizona, that much is clear. One that’s been drinking radioactive water at a uranium mine? That is less clear.

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Jetsonorama. Lola The Atomic Sheep Dog. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

But so far Lola has exceeded her charge and performed beyond other sheep dogs here in Cow Springs, says artist Jetsonorama – so much so that she’s become a bit of an artistic muse for him lately. “She is revered here,” says the photographer and street artist, who prefers to spell her name with an exclamation point at the end (Lola!). “Coyotes don’t bother trying to steal any sheep from her flock,” he says, “whereas most flocks of sheep have 3 or 4 sheep dogs per flock, Lola herds several hundred sheep solo.”

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Jetsonorama. Lola The Atomic Sheep Dog. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Radioactive dust and contaminated water is scattered across a large expanse of the Navajo nation, say locals, with many of the 500 or more of these sites estimated to be open and unprotected – or rather protected from people and animals breathing in the air and drinking the water there.

In 2012 the journalist Leslie MacMillan reported in the New York Times about many of these open sites emitting dangerous levels of radiation and folks like Jetsonorama and neighbor ranchers were given a little hope that something would come of it.

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Jetsonorama. Lola’s herd.  The Atomic Sheep Dog. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

For now, Lola is Jetsonorama’s emissary of spreading this radioactive message – and she is going strong and rather purple-ish in this desert wall campaign. He’s calling her an atomic sheep dog.

“I first pasted Lola in January of 2014 at cow springs.  I used a wall where I paste regularly and local members of Bloods and Crips go over my work – and then I go back over them. When I paste Lola I tint the background with a graffiti-patterned magenta, then I cut her out of the photo.”

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Jetsonorama. Lola The Atomic Sheep Dog. She does have some canine friends. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

It’s unclear whether the presumed radioactive water that Lola laps up has contributed to her performance on the range, or if Jetsonorama has found an effective PR spokes-dog for his campaign to raise awareness of these unprotected uranium mines, but Lola seems like she is owning it.

Right now she’s running solo, although Jetsonorama says she does some occasional socializing. “However, since becoming atomic,” he says, “Lola is THE super sheep dog!”

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Jetsonorama. Lucy’s trailer. Early morning light. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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Painting the Desert : Urban Artists in the Navajo Nation

Painting the Desert : Urban Artists in the Navajo Nation

It’s an unusual pairing: Street Artists who are accustomed to the grit and grime of deteriorating neighborhoods in the city translating their skills to the desert where the environment is outstandingly more natural than built.

In the third year of his experiment inviting artists to paint and wheat-paste in the Navajo Nation, organizer Chip Thomas, whose own street persona is Jetsonorama, appears to have hit a community service vein.  “The relationship with the community became deeper,” he says as he relates the integration of some of the artists work relating directly to the history and the stories people tell in this sunbaked part of Arizona. More residency than festival, “The Painted Desert Project” began as a retreat offered to artists Thomas had met through his own association with Street Art festivals like Open Walls in Baltimore.

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Troy Love Gates AKA OTHER. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Invited to come for an extended stay, compared to the 4 or 5 days of a typical Street Art festival, these artists are encouraged to study their new environment and to fully immerse themselves before conjuring a new work. Not only does the technique avoid the often levelled charge of cultural imperialism that is associated with the big festivals around the globe, it produces work that has impact and relevance to the community who will be looking at it year round.

Even though there can be a disconnect between the art and the community occasionally, as in the case of one work by the artist Troy Lovegates that was interpreted as being out of sync with some tastes, the majority of works are so closely related to people and the life here that a sense of ownership takes hold quickly. Any cultural worker associated with larger mural projects and programs in cities will tell you corollary stories about how the public responds to the voice of the artist, and one measure of success is the level of engagement by the community. “The project has always focused on creating art that is culturally sensitive,” says Thomas of his approach to the artists and the community, and he says that this year, “I feel like the project moved to the next level.”

Here are fresh images from the third installment of “The Painted Desert Project” that took place this spring and summer, along with some details about the works and their relationship to the people and places that hosted the artists.

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Troy Lovegates AKA OTHER. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Street Artists Troy Lovegates and Labrona stayed for a few weeks in the Navajo nation and focused most of their work on a water tank in Rocky Ridge. While Lovegates initial mural was buffed when it “was found to be offensive by members of the community,” says Thomas, their new pieces on the tank were greatly embraced. “We were hosted in Rocky Ridge by the family of Louise Shepherd where we spent the night in a traditional hogan and ate food fresh from Louise’s garden.”

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Labrona and Troy Lovegates AKA OTHER  Detail. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Troy Lovegates AKA OTHER  and Labrona. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Troy Lovegates AKA OTHER. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Labrona. Detail. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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“In Beauty it is finished” by HYURO. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Street Artist Hyuro was created only her second mural in the US here this summer; significant because her first one in Atlanta for Living Walls last year featured nudity that set fire to the passions of religious sensitivities in the neighborhood that were further fanned by showboaters.

For “Painted Desert” the native of Valencia, Spain looked closely at the customs of the community when conceiving her depiction of a prayer ritual, which when viewed in this simple animation, reflects the connection native people have to their agricultural customs and history. “Moved by the simplicity and beauty of the traditional Navajo morning prayer Hyuro positioned her female figure facing the rising sun,” says Thomas, “and she illustrated the movements of this prayer that is performed with white corn pollen.”

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HYURO. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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HYURO. Local resident Sharston Woody is a storm rider on this vehicle people call a “4 track”. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jaz and Mata Ruda. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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JAZ. The Painted Desert Project 2014.  Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

New to the project this year were Street Artists Jaz, LNY, and Mata Ruda, each known for their large scale murals that are interpretive of history and in the case of the latter two, advocacy of social and political causes. This building “was part of the old Bureau of Indian Affairs school system from the 1950s to the 70s, after which it fell into disuse.” Shortly after the revival of the walls, says Thomas, the community began talking about making new plans to convert it into a youth center.

“Local food during the time Jaz, LNY, and Mata Ruda were here was catered by Mrs. Woody and her family,” says Thomas.

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Mata Ruda. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jaz . Mata Ruda. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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JAZ. The Painted Desert Project 2014.  Kayenta, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Near Monument Valley in Kayenta, Arizona, the Argentinian Street Artist Jaz painted a mural inspired by the plight of wild horses that are starving due to overgrazed pastures, says Thomas. In the image the horses are running to escape capture, he says.

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LNY. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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LNY at work. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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LNY. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

This vast view of Machu Picchu at the top is a cultural gift from the artist LNY to the community. “He wanted to bridge indigenous cultures of his home in Equador with that of the Navajo nation,” says Chip Thomas, the organizer of “The Painted Desert Project”.

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Doodles . Avant Gardener. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

In this mural the artists Doodles and Avant Gardener including important animals that are symbolic to the Navajo like the eagle and hawk, among traditional rug pattern designs, a mountain range, and a rainbow. LNY incorporated a small circle painting in black and white of a woman holding a lamb.

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Monica Canilao prepping an installation. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Artists Doodles and Monica Canilao “turned my backyard into a fabrication shop, running chop saws and table saws late into the night,” says Thomas of their work to rebuild a roadside food stand that had burned to the ground. Having made friends with the proprietor, Mrs. Woody, during a previous edition of “Painted Desert,” the two constructed the sides of the food stand and painted them behind his home.  As evidence of the bond created between residents and program participants, the artists spent 10 days doing this work, according to Thomas. The family of Mrs Woody came to the house often during the construction and painting to assist and to bring home made food to the artists. Since the artists departed at the end of the summer they have kept in contact with the Woodys via Facebook and Instagram.

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Jetsonorama extends his most heartfelt gratitude to all the people who came together and help with donations of all kind to make this project possible, including to all the donors at http://www.gofundme.com/painted-desert-project

 

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Mae Jean & Mary Reese Grace The Arizona Desert with Jetsonorama

Mae Jean & Mary Reese Grace The Arizona Desert with Jetsonorama

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Jetsonorama. Mae Jean & Mary Reese. The Painted Desert Project. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Mata Ruda and LNY are on their way out to The Painted Desert Project with Chip Thomas (Jetsonorama) and will be painting the back of the old gymnasium in Kaibeto this week. Argentina’s Jaz is already in town and talking with Ms. Hall about what he’ll be painting on the wall she is donating. Yesterday he and Chip took the day to tour the region and get a good look at the land and the life here.

“There was much driving between Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon,” says Chip. And we hear that Hyuro from Spain is coming soon. All the artists will be continuing this most unconventional mural project that is now in its third full iteration.

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Jetsonorama. Mae Jean & Mary Reese. The Painted Desert Project. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

While waiting for the Jaz and the Jersey Boys to pull in Jetsonorama himself just completed this large scale tribute to a two local women of two generations on the exterior of a storage barn at milepost 358 on Arizona’s Highway 160.

“The woman on the left having trouble with her flip phone is Mae Jean Begay,” says the photographer who has been placing large images of local folks on buildings on the reservation for a number of years. The woman waiting patiently for Mae Jean is her mother, Mary Reese, who you may typically find herding sheep on any given day. Ladies and gentlemen we re present Mae Jean and her mom, Mary.

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Jetsonorama. Mae Jean & Mary Reese. The Painted Desert Project. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jetsonorama. Mae Jean & Mary Reese. The Painted Desert Project. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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The People Speak: Jetsonorama New Project in Flagstaff, Arizona

brooklyn-street-art-jetsonorama-stepJetsonorama “Step” (photo © Courtesy of Jetsonorama)

“In Flagstaff, Az there is an effort on the part of the Navajo and Hopi tribes against using reclaimed waste water to make snow on a local ski resort, The Snowbowl.   Thirteen surrounding tribes hold the San Francisco peaks, where the fake snow is to be made, a sacred mountain.  the tribes believe that deities within their respective cosmologies reside there. To use reclaimed waste water is considered a desecration in a place where indigenous people go regularly to pray, collect herbs and to be in the presence of the holy ones” Jetsonorama

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