400,000 is Not a Number is an artwork created by Drue Kataoka to highlight the work of Test400k, a campaign founded by Julie Smolyansky and Jason Burdeen to resolve the backlog of 400,000 untested rape kits in the U.S.
“I wanted to invite the viewer to literally stand in the midst of roughly 400,000 circles - each one representing a life, a family, a community, a world that has been impacted. The overwhelming sum of layered circles coalesces to form the image of one woman--- unifying the experiences while allowing them to remain distinct. Some of the circles are so tiny and faint that you have to come very close to even see them, but the art beckons you forward. So the circles are also like grains of sand------ we will never be able to fully count nor measure the collective pain and loss of these rape victims.
For me, the woman in profile with wind swirling through her hair is also reminiscent of a nautical “figurehead.” Throughout history, across cultures, figureheads were placed at the prow of ships and were believed to protect the ship from rocks, storms and dangerous winds. In the same way, the woman in the artwork is imparted with a protective quality, drawing on strength from rape-kit analysis advocates, activists, community leaders and policy makers. As this intrepid community leans forward into new waters, she offers her protection on the metaphorical seas.”
The artwork, "400,000 Is Not A Number" was unveiled at the Chicago Summit where Top Leaders Convened to Discuss Public Safety Reforms & Propose Solutions for Backlogged Rape Kit Testing. Photo of Julie Smolyansky & Kristen Field.