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E Pluribus Unum

In 2012, the Axle artist-collaborators, Jerry Wellman and Matthew Chase-Daniel, began a photographic portrait project, E Pluribus Unum. This ongoing biennial project enlivens and documents communities throughout the state of New Mexico, with a mobile photographic portrait studio built inside the vintage aluminum Axle vehicle.


Participation is free to all. Participants bring a small object of personal significance, and enter the mobile studio and sit for a black and white photo portrait while holding the object. The objects brought are as diverse as the participants. Objects have included car keys, photos of loved ones on cell phones, artworks, tools, books, food, toys, and vintage collectibles.


Two copies of each portrait are immediately printed with the gallery’s solar-powered printer. One is given to the participant, another is pasted to the exterior of the vehicle, creating a mobile and growing exhibition throughout the span of each regional project.  At the close of each project Axle Contemporary Press publishes a book containing all of the portraits, and one image on the cover blending all off the hundreds of portraits into one face, representing the entirety of the community of participants. After each project the portraits are also exhibited in regional exhibitions.


Axle Contemporary  E Pluribus Unum projects:


E Pluribus Unum: Santa Fe (2012) includes over 550 portraits and was exhibited as a video in SITE Santa Fe’s Time/Lapse: March 2012 exhibition.


E Pluribus Unum: Albuquerque (2014) includes over 650 participants and was exhibited at 516 ARTS in Albuquerque as part of the Heart of the City exhibition.


E Pluribus Unum: Dinétah (2016) took place on and near the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona, with over 800 participants. The exhibition took place at the Navajo Nation Museum, in Window Rock Arizona in 2017 and 2018.

E Pluribus Unum: New Mexico Southeast (2018) includes over 1,000 participants and was exhibited at The Roswell Museum and Art Center and at The Western Heritage Museum in Hobbs

E Pluribus Unum: El Norte (2022) took place in communities in north-central and Northeastern New Mexico, with includes over 1,000 participants. An exhibition will open in August 2023 at the Taos Center for the Arts.

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