Shelter in Plates
with Mike Mandel
commemorative plates
2013


Six stoneware 10.5 inch plates
fabricated from digitally printed four-color decals, transferred to the plate and kiln fired

This series of commemorative plates recognizes the unprecedented lockdown of thousands of Watertown residents, including we, the artists, who were ordered to shelter in place, during the April 19, 2013 manhunt for the last Boston Marathon bomber. Confronted with military-style troops searching our homes and surround- ings, for sixteen hours families were ordered inside, police stationed at corners and half-way points on every street. No cars were allowed into the search zone. No one was allowed outdoors. We watched through our windows while SWAT teams me- thodically searched every yard, under porches, and in some areas inside homes, as well. These plates commemorate the people of Watertown living under siege.

In the early morning on April 19, 2013 Governor Deval Patrick ordered residents of Watertown and surrounding cities and towns to “shelter-in-place,” to stay inside their homes initiating a manhunt for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The previous night Tsarnaev’s brother Tamerlan had been killed in a shootout with police in Watertown, but the younger brother eluded capture and escaped, abandoning his car a few blocks away from the shoot-out.

A vast military style manhunt was soon underway, one of the largest in the history of the United States. A twenty block area of Watertown was cordoned off by thousands of police, and numerous SWAT teams were ordered to search every home in this target area. For an entire day and into the evening Watertown residents stayed indoors, watching out windows as tanks and heavily armed soldiers went door to door.

At 6 PM, having failed to find Tsarnaev, Governor Patrick lifted the shelter- in-place order and Watertown residents were able to come outside to ponder wheth- er the bombing suspect had escaped the area or perhaps might still be hiding nearby. An hour and a half later a Watertown resident who lived inside the search area walked into his backyard and noticed that the cover on his boat was loose. Looking under the tarp he discovered Dzhokhar Tsarnaev alive, but lying in a pool of blood, and notified police. The ordeal had finally ended.

During the course of the lockdown many Watertown residents were ordered out of their homes without the authority of a search warrant, strip searched, and taken into police custody. Shelter in Plates is a response to the extreme militarization of the police action, on April 19, 2013.

Online sale of the plates through shopify took place between December 1, 2013 to January 15, 2014

Following the announcement of the online store, the Police Chief of Watertown, Edward Deveau, called the artists’ employer, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in an attempt to stop the project.

Shelter in Plates is in the collection of The Addisson Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy and the Fitchburg Art Museum.