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                          Artist's STATEMENT

The images you see are as honest as I can record them. I use a 4x5 Wista field camera, with a150 G- Claron standard size lens. I use Kodak Color Vericolor II Type L film, now called Kodak PRT. I do not use any filters, artificial lighting, unique tinting or printing technique to embellish these photographs.

I am a photographer who searches for the decisive moment. Though many of these images are done by long exposure (ranging from 1 to 30 minutes) the "moment’ is not the release of the shutter but the thread of time that continues through the photographic process, through life. The sense of balance that is created is not just in the composition but in a connection with the moment. The transitory nature of existence makes these moments precious.

I have been working on this particular photographic essay for ten years, taking photos in the northeastern "Rust Belt" as well as in modern day ghost towns of the economically depressed southwest. I have returned to these factories many times and they are always different from the times before. Everything changes but nothing is lost, nothing dies it is just transformed. These factories show me the infinite in the finite. They are remnants of permanence, vestiges in which I find a sense of awe, joy and simple understanding.

There are new chain link fences that surround these old mental institutions.  But these fences are not there to contain what once lived inside.  They are there to protect these lost souls from what is outside.

Located high on a hill overlooking all of Middleton, Connecticut is Connecticut Valley Hospital, one of the first mental institutions constructed in the United States in 1886.  The facilities buildings range in age from 40 to 130 years old.  Some of the older buildings have been slated for renovation and others for demolition.  I was invited to document these places before they were lost.

Before I started this project, I thought it would be a great adventure to explore these old and eerie abandoned mental hospitals.  After I had spent several days photographing I began to feel that these places had a lot to teach me.  When I am in these places I have learned to quiet my mind, my own idea of what this is, and as clearly and compassionately as possible see what these buildings have to say.

This project has opened my life to a topic that I assumed I understood - mental illness.  My re-education lead  me to feel and see the legacy of ignorance and presumption that caused further suffering for those seeking refuge from their already difficult lives.  These places are a 130 year old statement of how the mentally ill were treated in the past and yet these spaces would not be unfamiliar to a patient today.

From:  The Mentally Ill in Connecticut:  Changing Patterns of Care and the Evolution of Psychiatric Nursing 1636-1972  Published 1974.

     "And yet one could apply say 'the more it changes, the more it remains the same'.  For there are still too many regressed patients, a shortage of the concerned and qualified people to provide care and treatment; a lack of  knowledge of the basic causes of psychiatric disorders and, what is more discouraging, the endless psycho socioeconomic problems of living that help give rise to patients.  But because there have been impressive advancements in psychiatric theory and practice, especially during the last three decades, there is hope that by 2072, solutions to these problems will have been found."

Have you ever had to go into a lost and found box searching for your lost item? First comes the sudden fear of it being lost. Next there is the frustration about the carelessness that brought you into this situation. Last, there is the anxious hope of perhaps finding it, and all along a deep understanding that it all depends upon the slight chance that someone was kind enough to take the time to return it.  Imagine being that lost item, waiting to be found, to be cared for and used again.

These were some of the feelings that I felt as I explored Ellis Island back in 1993-94. I was fortunate enough to be able to explore Ellis under the guidance of National Park Ranger, Kevin Daily. Together we explored the restricted areas of the grounds outside of the museum that are located on the southern part of the island. We made our way room by room. In many of these I would find small personal items left behind. As I moved through the buildings my guide would inform me of the function of each item or perhaps a story that accompanied it.

It was painful to hear of the awful circumstances that tens of thousands of people went through to get into this country. Often people were just sent back or held in isolation wards if they were suspected of illness. People who died on the island often ended up in the Ellis operating theater to be dissected for NYU medical students. Sometimes, even young children ended up in these situations. There are many stories, and I suggest you go to the museum yourself and find your own. 

Through these photographs I found some stories that had been lost and brought them out 
of the dark to where they can be remembered and appreciated. Some of them are painful to see
but that is all we are doing is seeing. Imagine being the immigrants who experienced it.

"In any common mirror you can see a reflection of everything that is placed before it, except itself. When you really see, a mirror can be found in everything. It is a great equalizer that helps clarify the world. How do you see yourself?" CK 1995

I traveled to India in 1995, a place I had wanted to visit for many years. I went there to get lost in another world and in myself. I found a lot more than I bargained for. I decided to spend all of my time in the town of Darjeeling in the northeast section of India. Darjeeling located in the heart of the foothills of the Himalayas and is surrounded by the Nepalese, Butanes and Tibetan borders. I spent a lot of time with monks and locals. With them I found a way of seeing not only myself, but also my culture, religion, and government.

We spend our lives trying to understand the world and yet we may still not know our true selves. We become stuck in thinking of life as things that happen outside and inside ourselves. We are blind as long as we continue to look "out". Looking out is actually impossible; the world cannot be seen "out there". Even the basic way your eye works is contrary to the way we commonly think about it. Light enters into your eye through the lens and photons connect with receptors at the back of the eye. In that way the universe looks in. Yet even that idea is not quite it, it is not in or out, you could say we meet like one mirror.