Chris Jordan (artist)
Chris Jordan (born 1963) is an artist based in Seattle, Washington who is best known for his large scale works depicting mass consumption and waste, particularly garbage. He has been called "the 'it' artist of the green movement".
Jordan grew up in Connecticut, where his father was a businessman and a photographer on the side, and Jordan later said that he was "filled with regret" that he could not practice his hobby photography full-time. Jordan was going to attend UC Santa Barbara, where he was going to study music, but instead transferred to the University of Texas at Austin to be with his wife, who was in graduate school there. He then attended law school "for all the wrong reasons," including a wrongful arrest at a young age, and then worked as a corporate lawyer. In the meantime, he spent all his free time and money on photography. He moved to Seattle because of its reputation as an interesting city that was near climbable mountains. After ten years of practicing law, Jordan resigned from the bar, removing his safety net, in order to become a full-time photographer. Early successes, including major shows in New York and Los Angeles, propelled his career.
Many of Jordan's works are created from photographs of garbage and mass consumption, a serendipitous technique which started when he visited an industrial yard to look at patterns of color and order. His industrious passion for conservation and awareness has brought much attention to his photography in recent years. Jordan uses everyday commonalities such as a plastic cup and defines the blind unawareness involved in American consumerism. His work, while often unsettling, is a bold message about unconscious behaviors in our everyday lives, leaving it to the viewer to draw conclusions about the inevitable consequences which will arise from our habits.
Jordan's work can be grouped in the following series:
- Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption (2003–2006) A series of large format photographs 2005 depicting the magnitude of America's waste and consumption.
- In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster (2005) A series of photographs taken in 2005 depicting the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
- Running The Numbers I: An American Self Portrait (2006–2009) A series of photographic mosaics depicting visualizations of statistics related to America's consumerism, social problems, and addictions.
- Running the Numbers II: Portraits of global mass culture (2009–2010) A series of photographic mosaics depicting visualizations of statistics showing the magnitude of global consumerism.
- Midway: Message from the Gyre (2009–ongoing) A series of photographs depicting rotting carcasses of baby Laysan albatrosses filled with plastic. These birds nest on Midway Atoll and are being fed plastic by their parents, who find floating plastic in the middle of the ocean and mistake it for food. This is a part of an ongoing arts and media project called Midway Journey, which has its own website.
- Of All The People In All The World – an art installation depicting similar statistics, using piles of rice
- Business Week
- A Conversation with Chris Jordan (Conscientious)
- Vancouver Sun
- Online gallery for the 2003-2005 series "Intolerable Beauty"
- Online gallery for the 2005 series "In katrina's Wake"
- Online gallery for the 2006-2009 series "Running The Numbers I"
- Online gallery for the 2009-2010 series "IRunning the Numbers II"
- Online gallery for the Midway series
- Chris Jordan follows the plastic to Midway Atoll, article in the TED blog