The National Mall will host a six-acre landscape portrait “Out of Many, One” (E pluribus unum) Oct. 4 through Oct. 31, commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
Cuban American urban artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is creating the gigantic composite portrait from 2,000 tons of sand and 800 tons of topsoil in various shades; 10,000 wooden pegs; and miles of string, the Trust for the National Mall said in a statement.
People can walk through the site between the Lincoln and World War Two memorials, along the south side of the Reflecting Pool. The best viewpoint will be from the recently reopened Washington Monument.
The landscape portrait is composed from digitized photos of 18- to 25-year-old males of various ethnic backgrounds in Washington, D.C.
The male-only portrait, “a stunning compilation of American faces, reflects the unique composition of the National Mall’s 29 million annual visitors and honors the legacy of diversity that has made this park – and our country – so great,” Trust for the National Mall president Caroline Cunningham said.
The artist will discuss his work at the following Smithsonian museums:
Meet the Artist: Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada
National Portrait Gallery
Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium
Wednesday, Oct. 1, 6:30 P.M.
Rodríguez-Gerada will discuss the process of creating this image. He will also display some previous projects, explore important themes in his work, and the exciting interplay between art and engineering. Free; no reservations required; seating is first come, first-served.
Naturally Selected: the Materials Behind Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada’s “Out of Many, One” Portrait
National Museum of Natural History
Saturday, Oct. 4, 3 to 4:30 P.M.
Rodríguez-Gerada will discuss his artistic design process, including how and why he chose the materials that comprise the portrait. Tim Rose of the National Museum of Natural History’s Mineral Sciences department will share his analysis of these materials. What about them—from their shape, color, and texture to their geological history—makes them a natural choice for such a monumental work of art? To register, click here.
“Out of Many, One”, Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada
National Air and Space Museum
Monday, Oct. 6, 10:30 to 11:00 A.M.
Rodríguez-Gerada uses aerospace technologies such as high precision GPS to make portraits visible from above. He will share examples of his past work and the artistic vision for “Out of Many, One”. Andrew Johnston of the National Air and Space
Museum will provide an overview of the technologies that made the art possible, including satellite technology and views of Washington D.C. from space. Free tickets available at the planetarium box office.
Past work of the New Jersey-reared Rodriguez-Gerada includes his enormous likeness of Barack Obama, created from hundreds of tons of sand and gravel on a Barcelona beachfront, before the 2008 Presidential election.
“It was created as a way to pray for change but also alludes to how all the outpouring hope could fade away like sand,” the artist explained on his website. He entitled it “Expectation” instead of Obama’s campaign slogan, “Hope”.
The artist has had exhibitions in other Spanish cities, as well as in Paris, Amsterdam, Belfast, London, Buenos Aires… For a full list, click here.
Rodriguez-Gerada’s latest, “Out of Many, One”, seen on money, is America’s unofficial motto.
After the exhibition, the soil and sand will be tilled into the ground as part of the National Mall’s turf restoration project. It fits the artist’s longstanding commitment to the environment.
The landscape portrait is a partnership among the Trust for the National Mall, the National Park Service, and the National Portrait Gallery.
“Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada’s work demonstrates that the art of portraiture knows no boundaries.” National Portrait Gallery director Kim Sajet says. “Who we are; how we perceive others; those we recognize; and those who we place in high esteem; constantly shifts over time.”