The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. has commissioned a grand landscape portrait from Cuban American urban artist, Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada, to be placed temporarily on the National Mall in October 2014. This portrait will be seen from space as part of Rodríguez-Gerada’s TERRESTRIAL series.
For the work titled “Out of Many, One,” the English translation of E pluribus unum, Rodríguez-Gerada will use several images of people photographed in Washington, D.C., to create a composite portrait that will not only be an interactive walk-through experience for visitors but will also be viewable from the newly reopened Washington Monument and from space. This is the first piece of his placed in the United States but others have been created in Barcelona, Spain; Amsterdam; and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The work will be placed on a 10-acre site and stretch across six acres of land midway between the World War II and Lincoln memorials along the south side of the Reflecting Pool.
Once the portrait is completed, Rodríguez-Gerada will create an etching design using parallel lines that will be projected by a satellite and read by GPS topography poles on the ground. The image is created using different colours of dirt and sand. The topography poles allow the artist to place the large-scale image at the location with high resolution and precision.
The installation will begin in September 2014 and be completed by the end of the month. The project will require approximately 2,000 tons of sand, 800 tonnes of soil, 10,000 wooden pegs and miles of string. At the conclusion of the temporary exhibition, the high-quality sand and dirt will be tilled back into the soil to help the National Park Service as they move forward with the next phase of turf restoration on the National Mall. The sand-soil composition will leave the grounds in better condition than when the project began.
“‘Out of Many, One’ reflects what the National Mall stands for—democracy, diversity and freedom of expression,” said National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Bob Vogel. “It will provide visitors with a unique national park experience and, in keeping with our mission, will improve the soil for better turf in the future. These benefits would not be possible without this unique partnership.”
Rodríguez-Gerada, born in Cuba and raised in New Jersey since the age of three, has worked in this style of urban portraiture since 2002. His art aims to create a dialogue about the concept of identity, and it questions the role models who are chosen to represent people in the public sphere. These works have no negative environmental impact and are created to poetically blend back into the land.
To find out more about the National Mall, visit nationalmall.org
To find out more about Washington, D.C and the Capital Region USA, visit www.CapitalRegionUSA.co.uk