Clark Completes Construction of Massive Portrait on the National Mall

October 01, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Clark has partnered with The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to construct a grand landscape portrait on a six-acre plot on the National Mall. The portrait, also referred to as facescape, opens to the public on October 4.

The larger-than-life commission is a composite image that reflects the diversity of the Washington metropolitan area. Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada composed the image by photographing various individuals around the city. From those photographs, Rodríguez-Gerada designed the temporary portrait, which sits just south the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The portrait is titled “Out of Many, One,” translated from the Latin phrase, E Pluribus Unum.

As a long-standing partner of the Smithsonian, Clark provided in-kind support for the project. In late September, dozens of Clark employees volunteered their time to help the portrait come to life, manipulating the soil into a work of art. The lines of the portrait were so precise that employees often used their hands to position the soil with accuracy.

Clark worked closely with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the National Park Service, and Mr. Rodríguez-Gerada to place the more than 800 tons of soil and 2,000 tons of sand used to construct the facescape. The artist’s image was rendered into an etching design. With the sand in place, Clark employees used special GPS surveying equipment to plot the 10,000 points that make up the portrait. Volunteers then used data from the receivers to correctly place the topsoil that created the visual contrast, revealing the final image.

The facescape is viewable from the observation deck of the newly re-opened Washington Monument, from airplanes overhead, and from satellite images from space. Visitors to the National Mall also will be able to have the unique experience of seeing the project at ground level and will be able to walk through the portrait freely. The exhibit can be viewed through October 31.

Clark's subsidiaries, Shirley Contracting and Metro Earthworks, also served as part of the project team.

To watch a video interview with the artist and footage of the portrait's evolution, click the image below.