We in the United States and around the world still have not come to grips with the slave trade and its long-lasting effects. This project seeks to build a contemporary memorial to slavery called HAVE YOU SEEN ME?
Have You Seen Me? is a work of art that transforms the iconic 1980s “kid on the milk carton” missing person advocacy campaign into a memorial for Africans who were lost during the Slave Trade.
This memorial to slavery depends on the involvement of a widespread group of people - not just for the funds to continue production, but for the housing of the bottles. The memorial is the network of bottles in our homes.
By putting the faces of real slaves on hand-crafted, archival, milk bottles, we are seeking to both repurpose the European obsession with pure white porcelain, as well as pay homage to the slave’s life – by attaching these precious images to a precious material we give the slave a dignified voice in a context historically unavailable to them.
Through the display, reflection, and conversation of each bottle, the world's first crowd-sourced memorial to slavery will be born.
Where Does My Money Go?
Who Are The People On The Bottles?
While the dairy farms depicted on the bottles are fictional, the missing people on them are real. The portraits are derived from historical documents depicting real people who were captured into slavery.
Why are we using Kickstarter?
To date, five unique editions (consisting of fifty bottles in each edition) of Have You Seen Me? porcelain bottles have been produced.
To immediately produce the next five bottles in the project (numbered 006, 007, 008, 009, 010, in limited editions of 50 bottles each) and continue the project it has become apparent that an industrial-quality production kiln is required to make the process more efficient, cost effective, and under the complete control of the artist. We need your help to make this happen. We need to keep this project alive.
The main goal of this Kickstarter is to create a mass-production facility for the project to grow and make the global memorial a reality. This Kickstarter will also produce five unique bottle editions.
To give you a perspective on our Kickstarter time frame of delivering five new bottles in five months, we spent over two years creating the existing five editions (250 bottles) currently in the collection.
With a new kiln, and the funds to proceed, five full editions of 50 bottles each (250 new bottles) will be ready-to-ship within five months of this Kickstarter campaign being successfully completed with our stretch goal of $33,000. If our stated goal of $20,000 is reached we will produce partial editions of all five farms. All backer bottles will be honored, produced, and shipped at the stated goal of $20,000.
Who is Creating This Work?
The project engages African first language speakers to develop historically accurate names for the people on the milk bottles (whose actual names have been lost to slavery), as well as to translate the text for Have You Seen Me?.
As each bottle is made, new translators are engaged, and new languages, regional stories, buried histories, and lost narratives are brought to light.
As each new series of bottles engages with new translators it also engages with new visual designers and design firms to create believable brand identities for each of the fictional farms on the bottles.
Alexi Morrissey conceived this project in late 2012 and has been working with a team of assistants ever since to make his vision a reality.
Mr. Morrissey has exhibited nationally and internationally, working both as an auteur and a collaborator executing projects with individuals, collectives, institutions, and governments. Mentored in ceramics as part of a youth offender program for habitual graffiti felons in Boston in the 1980s, he went on to earn a BFA in Fine Art from the renowned Kansas City Art Institute where he studied sculpture under the late Dale Eldred. In his graduate work at Carnegie Mellon University he published and exhibited with the seminal art collective, The Centre for Metahuman Exploration. At Carnegie Mellon University he founded the Big Signal laboratory in the school's world famous Robotics Institute where he created interactive artworks for NASA.
He has over twenty years of experience devising social practice artworks with diverse communities, and managing long-term, complex projects. Mr. Morrissey has received numerous awards, peer-reviewed grants and has a proven track record of strong oversight and grant reporting with large budgets.
When Marco Polo brought porcelain to Europe in the 1500s, the aristocracy became so enamored with it that they commanded their artists to duplicate this fragile and alluring ware. The process of reverse engineering this material took over 200 years – at long last, this deeply sought-after luxury item was readily available. Still today, most people call porcelain by its appropriated fetish name: China.
"Fine China" has been traditionally treasured by Western societies for hundreds of years. Many of our own grandmothers had it in cabinets as a highly prized family heirloom to be passed on from generation to generation. That cultural memory drives the emotional gravity of choosing this historically relevant material.Who Currently Supports the Project?
We are not beginning from scratch with this Kickstarter campaign. We are now making it happen on a large scale. We can't make that move without your support.
This project has already engaged hundreds of people over several years. We are grateful to the supporters who have generously decided to collect the work and take it into their homes.
The bottles have exhibited at the Society for Contemporary Craft, The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and the Andy Warhol Museum. The project will exhibit at The American Museum of Ceramic Art from November 2015 through March 2016 in Los Angeles County.
In the last two years, we have built meaningful relationships with translators, archivists, curators, linguists, historians, folklorists, African dignitaries, and community leaders. We have learned the demanding art and science of the 2,000 year old porcelain craft.
Thank You For Your Support
Alexi Morrissey and Team
Risks and challenges
The greatest challenge this art project faces is making a large volume of work in a shorter period of time than we have before. Creating hand-made porcelain has built-in risks; things warp and break, kilns malfunction, glazes and on-glaze lithographs fail, vendors make mistakes and raw materials are sometimes unavailable. We've experienced all of these challenges multiple times on a small scale.
The production-grade equipment purchased with help from the Kickstarter community will vastly improve our studio infrastructure, allow us to hire qualified studio assistants, purchase materials in wholesale quantities and sign with vendors at volume discounts.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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