Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada’s portraits aren’t your garden variety imagery. Instead of drawing or painting, the artist creates massive pieces on the ground, that can only be seen from a bird’s eye view. By piling rocks, digging ravines, putting up fenches and manipulating colored muds, the artist has created oversized portraits of President Obama, architect Enric Miralles, and regular citizens, viewable only by plane, hot air balloon or satellite.
With the help of many volunteers, Rodrigues-Gerade uses the earth as his canvas. One of his most gorgeous pieces was a giant mandala depicting Barack Obama, set on the waterfront of Barcelona, Spain. Using over 650 tons of local sand and gravel in varying colors, the artist created the piece as a symbol of hope for change. By piling different colored materials on a giant vacant space, he built up the natural materials into a shape showing Obama looking over his shoulder. Once the election was successful, the piece could be easily removed, with no harm to the land.
The tree-lined mandala of Enric Miralles was constructed as an homage to the late Spanish architect. On the tenth anniversary of his death, friends gathered to plant shrubs, break down rocks, and distribute materials to resemble the architect’s likeness in memoriam.
For 350.org’s Google Earth project, the artist chose not a mandala, but instead temporary sun stencil made from wooden posts and plastic fencing. Choosing a to portray Gal-la, a child local to Delta del Ebro, the materials were constructed into a maze-like shape, which formed the child’s face and hair. With plastic sheeting stretched between the posts, the shadow cast was the detailed face of Gal-la, and was meant to draw attention to the effects of the sun and greenhouse gases.
Rodriguez-Gerada’s epic earth works take earth art to the next level, by being not only temporary, but by calling attention to social and environmental issues with a bold statement.