Artist Statement – State Hospital


Artist Statement - State Hospital

Artist Statement - State Hospital

The North Hampton State Hospital sits as historical memory to virtually one hundred and fifty years of the old style asylum, often known as the hospital for the insane. A colleague and I photographed the visual remnants of the lives there for over one year. We would get locked into the main building for the day. The building is deteriorating from neglect. Ceilings caving in, broken pipes, and wild animals, added to the vandalism all create an unsettling atmosphere. This place which was meant to heal residents mental state is so haunting and foreboding the identities of residents seem to exist in small bits of evidence they left behind. The reality of this older style of healing people by sending them off to be isolated in asylum life is hard to imagine. The hospital was a self-contained environment, which even grew its own food and made its own furniture. In the cold New England winters the first director wrote of the difficulty of helping anyone in such an extremely harsh environment.

The winter months seemed so cold in there while we made photographs we would often sit outside in the caged porches to warm up in the sun. We were both going through very difficult challenges in our personal lives. In an odd way the experience of wandering through this structure seemed to be helpful.

John Willis

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