#liberty #justice #equality
In 2010 I was asked by Winterthur Museum to reverse engineer the process of making an 18th-century Liverpool creamware jug to inform their publication Success to America: Creamware for the American Market referencing the S. Robert Titleman Collection, the finest collection of patriotic jugs in the world. This genre of colonial era ceramics, largely produced and exported from Liverpool, England, documents an incredible historic record of war, revolution, independence, and trade. Commemorative and celebratory depictions of American revolutionary heroes, merchant ships, war ships and sailors adorn these British ceramics “made for the American Market.” At first glance, the inscription “Success To Trade” appears to be an innocuous salutation but the reality of Britain and America’s cynical capitalistic enterprise was the brutal business of human commodity and Liverpool the largest slave port in the world.
Patriotic Jug 2018
“Patriotic Jug” historically connects the actions of NFL player now Nike spokesman Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee against the inhumanity of mass incarceration and institutional racism to the iconic image of the ‘kneeling slave’ made famous by Josiah Wedgwood’s 1787 abolitionist medallion ‘Am I Not A Man and A Brother. By the early 19th century, ceramic sugar bowls and tea sets were decorated with abolitionist themes featuring images of the kneeling slave as a call to boycott sugar produced by slave labor- directly instructing social activism through household ceramics. The transfer print of a kneeling enslaved woman on the face of the jug is borrowed from a 19th-century pin cushion worn around the wrist, an artifact of women’s work, and an intimate daily reminder of the injustice of slavery.
A transfer print of the 1st amendment encircles the interior of the rim and the Nike campaign moniker EQUALITY opposes the iconic image of Kaepernick’s extraordinary action to risk his career and raise his voice with millions watching by taking a knee on behalf of the voiceless who suffer the injustice of racism.
|photography Robert Hunter|