Museum of Art presents “Running the Numbers”

Plastic Bottles, 2007 – depicts two million
plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the
U.S. every five minutes.

PULLMAN – The Museum of Art at WSU will exhibit “Running the Numbers” by Chris Jordan. The exhibition opens Wednesday, Jan. 14 and runs through Saturday, April 4.

Jordan will lecture on his work at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 in the Compton Union Building Auditorium. A special lecture with environmentalist Paul Hawken will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Compton Union Building Auditorium.

In 2006, Jordan began a series of digital photographs that present contemporary American culture via statistics regarding American excess. Each image portrays a specific quantity of consumption or cultural value: two million plastic beverage bottles (the number used in the U.S. every five minutes); 426,000 cell phones (the number retired every day); 2.3 million orange prison uniforms (the number of Americans incarcerated annually).

Jordan portrays these statistics by incorporating them visually in large, intricately detailed photographic prints assembled from thousands of smaller images. “The overall image is impressive. These are large works, larger in scale than what most people think of as a photograph,” said Chris Bruce, director of the Museum of Art/WSU.

“Chris Jordan’s photographs are not only mesmerizing to look at, they also engage the viewer in discourses that are prominent in the collective mind of today’s environmental and socially analytical thinkers. Rather than embed yet another statistic in a sea of numbers hoping to offer profound insight into the frequency and/or magnitude of a subject of concern, Jordan offers an image to fully realize the impact potential of it. The result is an undeniable confrontation with our behavior and responsibility as human beings.” Curator of the Museum of Art, Keith Wells, said.

The exhibition, organized by the Museum of Art/WSU, is the first comprehensive presentation of this internationally-known artist’s work, and will travel nationally. It will focus on Jordan’s recent body of works, “Running the Numbers” (2006-present), and will also include examples of the previous series of straight, documentary photographs, “Intolerable Beauty” (2003-05).

The Museum of Art is publishing an accompanying book for the exhibition entitled, “Chris Jordan: Running the Numbers.”

Paul Hawken, an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author is a contributing essayist for this book. In his essay entitled “The Idyllic and the Unforgivable” he says “For Chris Jordan our throwaway life is a telltale handprint of civilization in trouble.” Hawken is the author of “Blessed Unrest” and his essay will be the topic of his Feb. 25 lecture.

“Chris Jordan’s photographic project offers a rare and unique opportunity to have a conversation about important subject matter that cuts through art-world boundaries into the environmental and social sciences. Certainly this is why he has been in such demand as a speaker, and why so many people all over the world know his images from the Internet. The Museum of Art is proud to act as the catalyst for new audiences to encounter this ground breaking work first hand,” said Bruce.

This exhibition is being funded by Paul G. Allen Foundation, The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington State Arts Commission, The Visual, Performing & Literary Arts Committee (VPLAC), Jack and Janet Creighton, and the Friends of the Museum of Art.

The Museum of Art is located on Wilson Road across from Martin Stadium in the Fine Arts Center on the WSU campus. Gallery Hours are Monday through Saturday,
10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Thursday until 7 p.m., closed Sunday.