From Lawn to Portrait in Sand to Soccer Field

mall portrait
Dept of Interior photo by Tami Heilemann

For just this month a 6-acre strip of lawn on the National Mall has been turned into a portrait in sand and dirt by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada called “Out of Many, One.” Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, it’s a composite of many ethnic groups, a generic face of Americans. About 2,300 tons of sand and 800 tons of soil were used, and the video below shows some of the action.

This spot is on a busy flight path, so will be seen by lots of travelers while it’s there this month, and looks awesome in satellite photos. (Scroll to bottom.)

Next month the Park Service will seed a lawn there and next year they’ll install soccer fields on the site. To me, the portrait is a welcome relief from one more boring athletic field, no matter how necessary they may be.

In the video below the artist walks through the portrait experiencing it as a Zen garden, something I plan to do in person asap.




  1. Very, very cool. In an age of spy satellites, CCTV and surveillance saturation, it’s a comfort to see someone, particularly a melting pot Everyman, returning the stare. While it may have been the product of nothing more than the constraints of the site, the single eye is so much more powerful than two would have been.

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