Bottling soda in glass started in Wisconsin in the mid-1800s. The bottling business was a large one--La Crosse alone had at least seven bottling companies. These four glass bottles were made at three different bottling companies in La Crosse. Although brewing beer is an important part of the identity of La Crosse, these bottles were not filled with beer. Instead they were filled with soda waters such as ginger ale, lemon drop soda, or mineral water. These bottles range in dates from the 1870s to the 1960s. They were made with the intention of being reused. They were returned to their companies after use, washed, and refilled multiple times.
Embossed- glass labels on returnable bottles assured they would be returned to the right company. This was the experience of drinking soda. However, in the 1920s and 30s this practice of returning bottles became harder for bottling companies to control. Unembossed, one-time use bottles became more common for cost-effectiveness. Since then, although recycling practices are growing, we continue to dispose most of our bottles after only one use.
Jennifer DeRocher is from Deerfield, Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse in the spring of 2016 with a degree in Public & Policy History. She will attend graduate school in the fall of 2016 at the Simmons College in Boston, MA for a masters degree in Library Science and Archival Studies.
I am using photographic media to approach this project because photography has a complex relationship to memory, which is an important theme of the [art]ifact exhibition. The photograph is also inherently about the multiple and my assigned objects are four glass bottles, all originally produced as multiples, so the medium speaks to the method of production of my objects.
Roger Boulay grew up near Boston, MA. He is the Gallery and Art Collections Coordinator at Winona State University. He has exhibited across the country.