They Were Here: A State-by-State Memorial
State maps + pins + DoD casualty lists = a stark reminder of a cost of war.
They Were Here: A State-by-State Memorial
State maps + pins + DoD casualty lists = a stark reminder of a cost of war.
They Were Here: A State-by-State Memorial is an attempt to quantify and make very explicit the direct human cost in lives, in American communities, of the Global War on Terror - in a bipartisan, visual, and visceral way.
This project grew out of public showings of my July 2013 work Mission Accomplished?, a 4-foot-by-6-foot map of the United States with over four thousand quilting pins, one for every fatal US military casualty suffered during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The pins were placed in the “Hometown of Record” according to Department of Defense casualty lists.
They Were Here is an expansion of Mission Accomplished? and a response to two common questions people had while viewing Mission Accomplished?:
What about the casualties from the other two fronts? (Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn)
How does socioeconomic status and/or population density of each area compare to the number of casualties it suffered?
The response from the public to Mission Accomplished? was overwhelming and humbling, and prompted me to conceptualize They Were Here. Mission Accomplished? demanded attention from people who had not thought about the Iraq War casualties in any sort of geopolitical context.
I was particularly gratified to hear repeated comments that, while the work was overtly political, it was not seen as an attempt to appropriate the deaths of soldiers for any particular political view.
These maps seek to show the number of American casualties in a way that is easily comprehended and that has a large visual impact. Mission Accomplished? did both of those things, which is why I think They Were Here is an important next step in this work.
The individual state maps offers the opportunity to map the casualties from all of the fronts, and to do so in a scale that allows for more accurate placement of the pins. My goal is simply to represent the data accurately and honestly to the very best of my ability.
I know there are online accessible maps that sort-of do the same thing, but do something like pop up a number when you mouse over a town or city. It's hard to keep those numbers in your head after awhile, and there is no collective context. The impact and influence seeing all of the casualties all at once cannot be overstated.
Over and over again, people who saw Mission Accomplished? pointed out how important it is that the work is NOT digital – it's powerful, it's 3-D, it allows the viewer to really see the distribution of loss and be affected by the information.
It didn't seem possible to explore those common questions clearly with another 4 foot by 6 foot national map; the scale did not allow for that sort of granularity. A state-by-state examination of these questions was in order.
For They Were Here: A State-by-State Memorial, I will be using the Official State Maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Pacific Territories. Referencing the official Department of Defense casualty lists to map the casualties of all Global War on Terror fronts to their hometowns of record with different colored pins (representing each Operation), similar to Mission Accomplished? .
The socioeconomic and demographic data requested by viewers of Mission Accomplished? will be incorporated into the exhibit, either near the pinned maps of They Were Here or on the maps themselves, using US Census data. How exactly this and other data will be displayed is still a concept in progress, and I'm sure I will be discussing this in my weekly updates!
While the names of fallen soldiers will not be on the individual pins, the lists of casualties will be part of the exhibit.
I know that I'm asking for a lot of money, and in the interest of transparency here's my estimated budget for the work. 52 separate and complete works will be created for this, plus the mounting and promotion of a two-month-long exhibit. Again, it's all estimates to the best of my ability and I will personally finance what isn't covered if my estimates are wrong.
- Maps - $260 (Some states free, others charge for maps or S&H. Estimating $5/map to be safe.)
- Pins - $890 (Approx 8900 pins needed, estimate based on previous sourcing for Mission Accomplished?.)
- Frames - $6,200 (Frames may even follow contours of states, which costs extra. Est. $100 per frame plus $1000 amortized over all maps for contingency).
- Foam Core - $768 (Purchased in bulk, 24 sheets of 48x96x1/2 in.)
- Misc. Supplies and Tools - $200 (Adhesives, cutting tools, clamps, jigs for frames, hardware, etc.)
- Work table and storage - $500 (Will build large table in studio for mounting, framing, etc. as well as storage for supplies, completed maps, etc.)
- Studio space for 12 months - $15,000 (1250/mo. Large, multi-piece work requires space not currently available to me. If not able to find adequate space in my current area, I will relocate. The work takes priority.)
- Gallery Rental - $10,000 ($5k/Nov. & Dec. Dedicated showspace critical. Also, gallery will be staffed 8 hrs/day, 6 days/wk. See "Risks and Challenges" below for more info.)
- Exhibit Costs - $3,000 (Estimate for a DYI build-out of necessary lighting, walls, pedestals, exhibit materials, promotional materials, hanging hardware, tables, signage, etc.)
- Exhibit Photographer - $500 (From experience I will be too busy answering questions to take my own photos, need another artist to capture the premiere.)
- Perk/Postcard Printing - $6,800 ($0.17 per postcard - premium: 130lb stock, glossy, oversized - estimate from national vendor, 1000 x 60 images).
- Perk Packing and Shipping - $13,800 (packing materials, postage for over 2200 packages)
- Artist Stipend - $13,400 ($300/wk stipend for 44 wk including – build, promotion, exhibit design and staffing, perk-related work.)
- Fees taken by Kickstarter and Amazon - $5,961(Taken off the top; building this in ensures the project doesn't come up short.)
- Taxes - $5,030 (6.25% sales and use rate used for calculation; final rate might be higher.)
GRAND TOTAL: $85,509
If you are a person or company who would like offer any of these things as in-kind support, in return for patron acknowledgement during the exhibit, please email me and let me know!
Lastly, please keep in mind that Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. If I raise enough money to allow me to build 2 (or 5, or 10) states, if it's not the full amount, nothing gets built (you won't get charged for your pledge, either). So I'll be working hard to reach that goal in order to do the work that you support!
I also recognize that I'm asking for support for something that is not only a significantly large undertaking, but that has a hard deadline (Friday, November 7, 2014).
I will have approximately 250 days from the end of the campaign to the premiere. Here are how I plan to spend those days:
- 127 days - pinning the maps. (Based on my previous experience with Mission Accomplished?, some states are finished swiftly and others take much longer. It depends largely on the detail/scale of the maps, which is currently an unknown - greater detail/larger scale means an easier time locating all of the communities. I've budgeted at least 2 days for each map, up to 7 days for the states I know will take a long time; i.e. CA, TX, IL, and NY).
- 20 days - mounting the maps - it's a finicky process that can't be rushed
- 21 days - framing
- 2 days - map sourcing
- 7 days - research
- 7 days - production of exhibit materials
- 15 days - photographs, documenting, creation of updates
- 10 days - marketing, promotional
- 7 days - related errand-y "stuff" (printing, supply ordering, etc)
- 7 days - workspace setup
- 7 days - exhibit setup (there is NO cushion on this one - in on the 1st, open on the 7th)
This leaves me with 20 days of contingency - allowing for the unexpected, in life or in art. This is a massive project. I've tried to account for that.
I hope that in laying this all out, you can feel confident in supporting me. I am so emotionally invested in this project I can't begin to describe it. I hope you find it worth your investment as well.
Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
I have budgeted $10,000 to lease a suitable space for a popup gallery for the months of November and December, 2014. However, the rents in my area for places in accessible, high visibility neighborhoods are leasing for an average of $35/$40 per square foot per year.
$5k/month may not be enough, depending on three factors: 1) how much space the finished exhibit requires, 2) the spaces available, or 3) how much of a premium may be required to secure a short-term lease such as this.
To outline the reasoning behind creating a popup gallery space, instead of relying on private gallery or non-profit gallery space:
1. This work will be a hard sell to private galleries precisely because it is so large, and the potential profit for the gallery is next to nothing. They are businesses, and They Were Here is not designed to be a commercially viable work. I would not be against showing They Were Here in a commercial gallery space if a gallery director were to offer it, but I cannot count on that happening.
2. It is extremely important that They Were Here be seen. Many non-profit galleries are often open very limited hours, or are located in hard-to-access places. Such a venue does not fulfill the mission to get They Were Here in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
I am planning to staff the gallery personally. If a non-profit organization were willing to house the exhibit and the location and building were easily accessible, I would be open to such. But again, I can't count on it.
Overcoming this challenge: I will work to find a suitable storefront/gallery space as originally envisioned. If none are available, I will look to partner with a non-traditional venue (library, university building, etc.) that is willing to host the exhibit for the budgeted amount. And if I need to move They Were Here to a different urban location entirely I will.
I have created a time budget as well as a monetary budget. I believe, based on my experience with Mission Accomplished? that this is a reasonable time frame. Again, I have also built in approximately 20 days of “extra” time, acknowledging the fact that They Were Here is a huge project and that unexpected things do happen.
Overcoming this challenge: It should be noted, I am more worried about the the timing and availability of the venue than I am about getting the maps done in time. So I will be working as soon as possible to secure a venue as early in the process as possible.
If the worst-case-scenario happens, and I am unable to premiere the project on November 7, 2014, I will work like crazy to get the They Were Here premiered over Memorial Day, 2015.
Regardless of the exhibit premiere, all perks and rewards will still be (to the best of my ability) sent out by the end of February 2015. (In this scenario, the only ones that would not be sent on time are sets that require images from the exhibit itself). I will work my tail off to get this done, and will keep you updated and aware of any delays or issues in the reward production process.
**Limited Personal Internet Presence.**
Plainly, I do not have much of a “reach” online. I can see the value in social media and networking.Yet I have avoided most social networking because of my own need to shelter my creative time and self from too many online diversions. My conscious and deliberate decision to avoid distraction has led to the problem (now that I need to crowdfund an ambitious project like They Were Here): I have yet to be able to cultivate a “tribe” large enough to support it. This is my biggest fear – that They Were Here will fail because I am not enough of a self-promoter, or have a large enough presence, online.
Overcoming This Challenge: I need you to help me.
I will do my part: reaching out to media (art critics/reporters and publications, news outlets, etc.); publicizing the They Were Here campaign through my personal communities (ie., clubs and pubs I 'belong' to); talking it up through my website and G+; writing personal emails. But I don't know if it will be enough.
If you support They Were Here, pretty pretty please “Like” this campaign on Facebook, +1 it like crazy, tweet and tumblr and pin and reddit this all over the place. Tell your own network about it.
Even if you can't support this memorial project monetarily, helping spread the word is invaluable help.
I know it's a big ask – “Please use some of your own personal social capital to help me!” – especially if you don't know me personally, and for that you have my sincere and deeply felt gratitude.
**Incomplete Data Sets** While Operation Iraqi Freedom has officially concluded, Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom are both active theaters. I will note when I've pulled any given set of records, and also note when I've updated them. This piece will be perpetually out of date until the Operations are ended, but I will be as accurate as humanly possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)