Today is #indigenouspeoplesday – but of course we talk about them more often than this. The Native American people of the Southwestern United States are called the Navajo, or the Diné. Italian spiritual-cosmologist-naturist Street Artist Gola Hundun spent three days walking in the desert here recently going to the Navajo National Monument and Monument Valley trying to get in touch with the native folks to better understand the culture and the significance of the land itself.Gola Hundun. The Painted Desert Project. Arizona. July 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)“I tried to combine those two elements with very different weights to generate an united image that would suggest how I feel the heart and the mind of Diné people,” he says as he describes the one story desert mural he ultimately painted with his botanical and natural motifs. Bright and optimistic, the landscape mimics the stunning views that surround and permeate the life here and he says his time here has altered his own vision of reality. The structure itself is classic; a typical abandoned petrol station you’ve probably seen in those road movies.Gola Hundun. The Painted Desert Project. Arizona. July 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)“The piece represents Navajo Mountain that is in the background,” he says, and the spiritual searcher finds a kinship with traditional Navajo stories about the foundational relevance of the land mass.“This is the head of their main goddess generator for everything of their world. For me it also includes a reinterpretation of the Hózhó in the middle of the mountain at the top – flowing in spiral way. Hózhó is the bedrock of Navajo religion, which, as I understand it, means it is a combination of existing state of balance, harmony, peace and completeness. They call it walk in beauty.”Gola Hundun. The Painted Desert Project. Arizona. July 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)The Painted Desert Project, begun here and regularly refreshed by local Street Artist/activist/doctor Chip Thomas, continues to invite Street Artists from around the world to paint here. The cross-cultural connections have been a boon to greater understanding – and continue to affect the visual experience of riding through this rich landscape.“I am so glad and grateful to have had the opportunity to be in the Navajo Nation and to try to share my love and respect to these amazing people,” says Gola.Gola Hundun. The Painted Desert Project. Arizona. July 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)Gola Hundun. The Painted Desert Project. Arizona. July 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)Gola Hundun would like to thank his host Chip Thomas @jetsonorama. He would also like to thank @danieljosley and @ballroomdaze for helping him realize this piece and his adventure there. “A special thanks to all the native and non-native people that helped me on this trip and helped me see reality with a different point of view.”
Americans are abandoning religion in droves, continuing a trend that has persisted over decades. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of Americans who didn’t identify with any religion jumped from 36.6 million to 55.8 million, according to Pew Research Center.