E Pluribus Unum, by Chris Jordan

From a distance the piece looks like a giant, intricately woven mandala, but closer investigation reveals the names of about a million organizations working for social and environmental justice all around the world.

Artist: Chris Jordan

Title: E Pluribus Unum

Year created: 2010

Location: Seattle,  USA

Materials: large scale print, massive database of organizations working in social justice and environmental issues.

What is the piece’s impact? The title of the piece roughly translates to read “Out of many, one.” The image as first appears to be a delicately drawn mandala made up of thin black lines. Upon closer inspection, one sees that the lines are, in fact, made up of the names of roughly one million organizations that are working on social justice and environmental issues around the world. The piece clearly demonstrates “the vast network of altruistic human organizations spread out across the world, all working in parallel together” (source). The viewer is quickly able to understand that these are not fringe organizations but a massive wave of change currently at work.

How does this project relate to this change as art? While largely and awareness raising piece, this work manages to do more than point out the number of people working on these issues – the scale of these numbers is made more apparent. As social creatures, most people need to know that they are not alone when committing to something that they are told is “not normal.” This piece challenges presumed norms and clearly represents the “vast network of altruistic human organizations spread out across the world, all working in parallel together. Despite their enormous diversity of size, focus, and geographic location, they are all united around a set of core values that places compassion and stewardship as highest priorities. The hundreds of millions of individuals who are creating and running these organizations bring a nourishing culture of passion, imagination, and citizenship to this process. In that way I think of this piece as being like a compass, pointing toward a true source of hope and inspiration for our times.” (source)

What makes this an artistic project? Chris Jordan is an accomplished photographic artist. It’s about visualizing information in an artistic fashion to make it resonate in a new way.

Other work by the same artist:

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