Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait

Chris Jordan, a Seattle based visual artist, has created an exciting new exhibit entitled “Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait.” It can be viewed from May 15th until September 11th at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The exhibit features seventeen original pieces, each of which illustrates a staggering social or environmental statistic. His piece entitled “Building Blocks,” for example, (measuring 16 feet tall and 32 feet wide) depicts a single children’s building block. But that building block happens to be composed of nine million microscopically smaller building blocks, each block representing one child in America who lives without health insurance as of 2007.

And so the pieces continue. A desert wasteland composed of 8 million toothpicks, each toothpick standing in as one tree destroyed for the express purpose of mailing out monthly catalogues. A gray and white hazy mass becomes, upon closer inspection, 426,000 cell phones—also known as the number of retired phones in the United States each year. A mesmerizing series of concentric circles morphs into 213,000 Vicodin pills, each pill a United States hospital visit in one year involving the often abused prescription medication.

The crowning achievement, however, seems to be the “Ben Franklin.” The faint image of the seminal American, standing 8.5 feet wide and 10.5 feet high, stares out at onlookers. His image is composed of minute $100 bills. 125,000 of those $100 bills to be exact. Another way to view that figure is $12.5 million, the amount spent each hour on the war in Iraq.

For more information about this exhibit, or any of Jordan’s previous work, visit his website:




Skull With Cigarette, Depicts 200,000 packs of cigarettes, equal to the number of Americans who die from cigarette smoking every six months.



Ben Franklin, Depicts 125,000 one-hundred dollar bills ($12.5 million), the amount our government spends every hour on the war in Iraq.

Published by Larry Fire

I write an eclectic pop culture blog called THE FIRE WIRE that features articles about books, comics, music, movies, television, gadgets, posters, toys & more!

2 thoughts on “Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait

  1. Where can Running The Numbers – American Portrait be seen in November? I saw it in Santa Barbara and would like a friend to see it-but it’s gone!.

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