Artists sending bottled messages

If you discover a brightly colored bottle bobbing in the waves, be sure to pull it aboard and pop the cork. Inside you won’t find a distress message or a love note, but a short poem instead.

Tennessee artists Alonzo Davis and Candi Farlice and poet Kay Lindsey collaborated on the project to send messages of good will and words of inspiration throughout the world. One hundred water-tight bottles with messages inside are being released this year in waters around the world, from the Black Sea to Hawaii, and to the Yangtze River in China.

On the backs of each enclosed piece of paper are return e-mail and standard mail addresses that the group of artists are hoping people will use to respond when the bottles are found. Embedded in the paper are seeds from a type of echinacea, an endangered variety of the medicinal herb found only in Tennessee, that the trio hope will be planted by people who find the bottles. Several people who found the notes have even promised to plant the seeds and care for the plants.

So far there have been five responses from the 80 bottles that have been deployed since May, according to Alonzo Davis, dean of the College of Art in Memphis. "A surfer found one in North Carolina," said Davis. "He put the bottle into his mouth and surfed into the beach. We think that one was released in a river in North Carolina." The group has no way of knowing exactly which bottles were released where, according to Davis.

Another bottle, which Davis suspects was released in England, recently washed ashore in Norway where it was found by a German couple who were camping on the beach. "They sent us a letter describing where they found it and under what conditions. Everyone has been very helpful and interested in the project," Davis said.

Bottle-dropping volunteers heard about the project by word of mouth and have been excitedly offering to deploy the bottles on their travels around the world. The only expectation the Memphis artists have is that the bottles are released into a moving body of water. Contact the group of artists via e-mail at

By Ocean Navigator