How this physician became a Navajo Nation street artist

Chip Thomas, MD, is not your average physician.

Dr. Thomas practices on a Native American reservation in Arizona, which he has called home since 1987. However, what makes him truly unique is his street art, which as been popping up on water tanks, two-story homes, trading posts and abandoned structures on the Navajo Nation, according to 12 News.

"I really see myself as kind of a megaphone, you know, amplifying messages within the community," Dr. Thomas told 12 News.

On his blog, Dr. Thomas details how his love of documentary-style photography, experiences on the reservation and predisposition for old school hip-hop and graffiti, in combination with a 2009 Brazilian sabbatical, all influenced his street art alter-ego, Jetsonorama.

His art incorporates huge versions of his own photographs of babies, elders, Code Talkers and others — some seven stories tall — which are pasted onto anything that can be a public canvas. Layers of text are often tagged on top.

The photography that informs his art has also helped inform his medical practice. "By going out and spending time with people in their homes and family camps, I have come to know them as friends. Interestingly, these home visits enhance my doctor-patient relationship by helping me be a more empathetic healthcare practitioner," he wrote on his blog.

 

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