History can be erased but the past can't be undone.
There is an adamant push from parts of the Fergus Falls leadership and community to demolish the Kirkbride building, even without a plan for the future of the grounds.
I can't speak for these people, but I believe the desire to remove the structure is at least partially tied to the incredible weight of its history. During my month on the former State Hospital's grounds and in working in the city, the shadow of the past has felt heavy and inescapable.
I don't know what should be done with the space, or how to best honor the memory of the people who lived and died here. But I believe destroying the building without making an effort to recognize the past is a mistake. Removing the structure won't change what happened here.
The State Hospital's third superintendent Dr. Patterson (1927 - 1968) strove to provide a community for the hospital patients, despite a limited budget and staff. This included the creation of a beauty parlor, library, coffee shop, Sunday church services, and more
Information and image inspiration courtesy of the Otter Tail County Historical Society
Started in the late 1890s, Mrs. Welch's Sewing Circle marked the beginning of the State Hospital's occupational therapy program.
Image inspiration and information courtesy of the Otter Tail County Historical Society
The hospital's second superintendent and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Welch, believed strongly in occupational therapy, and most patients who were able worked in some capacity: helping with jobs such as farming, laundry, clothes making, cleaning, wood working, and other ways of contributing to the function of the State Hospital.
Photo inspiration and information courtesy of the Otter Tail County Historical Society
"The complete isolation of the insane asylum of 1906 from the communities that it served offered the greatest obstacle to the successful treatment of mental illness. ... For many of these residents, the door through which they might return to the community seemed to be permanently closed." - Emery Johnson Jr.
I’ve spent a few evenings walking around the State Hospital as the sun is going down, and reached an interesting point where I can no longer tell how dark it is. Between my eyes gradually adjusting and the snow, I feel like it’s still dusk when in fact it’s nighttime.
Two drawings from the former State Hospital cemetery, where perhaps the most defining feature is the emptiness. There are over 3000 recorded patient burials here, most of which were unmarked.
Along the edges of the cemetery are stacks of gravestones, as the group Remembering With Dignity works to mark the burial places
🖌🎨 @springboardarts commissioned me to illustrate a giant coloring page//their 2017 annual report! They sent them out with adorable tiny coloring pencils 😭
This was actually a digital project and I drew it all on my ipad in #procreate . It looks so realistically like pencil 😱 The first time I saw it in full size was this weekend when I got to paint in a couple for fun! I jerryrigged a video station so impressive and confidence-inspiring that @desktop_aaron started emailing me links to purchase flexible tripods 😂
All non-profits make reports like this every year, and this is deffffff the most fun/interesting one i’ve ever made. Thanks to @catiyas for the commission/art direction!
Warmed up for next week's @awpwriter Conference by spending a few days at the @collegeartassociation Conference this past week in Los Angeles. Thanks to @walkerartcenter, @generalpencil, @dartmouthcollege Press, @springboardarts, @coloredpencilsocietyofamerica & many others! #CAA2018#CAALA#CAAWorks#TheWaxPaper
It’s time to frickin DRAW THIS MF LEAF COLLAGE 😤 Also quick life update: I’ve been paying my student loans back in FULL ($1000 per month) with a job that pays like $300 every two weeks. Been moping/working my ass off outside of that to make ends meet. BUT I went to the art licensing class with @lightgreyartlab and #springboardforthearts last night, and I feel so refreshed and ready to really push myself further in my career. 💕💕💕 #illustrator#workspace#art#motivated
MN friends! Springboard for the Arts is now offering their art biz workshops for free!! The one on the fourth is passed, but there are several others coming up. I went to the one on recordkeeping over the summer and would highly recommend them. And, aside from offering useful information, they put you in contact with other local artists. So it's a double win. Hope you can make it. Help me share this around! Thanks all.
Lindsay (LGAL's founder, seasoned design veteran, creative director at Paper Bicycle) will be teaching a free class on art licensing this January! More information below, and head to - https://springboardforthearts.org/events/art-licensing/ - to RSVP!
Date: Tuesday, January 30, 7:00–9:00 pm
Location: Light Grey Art Lab, 118 E 26th St, Minneapolis, MN
Join Paper Bicycle Creative Director and Light Grey Art Lab founder, Lindsay Nohl, for a two-hour workshop about creating artwork for the consumer goods market and preparing a portfolio for licensing art for products. Art Licensing is a great opportunity to build equity in one's personal brand, make additional income, and partner with manufacturers to produce highly-illustrative goods in the home, apparel, stationery and gift markets. Artists that wish to learn how art licensing can contribute to their creative business will learn the basics of how art licensing works, what it takes to build a comprehensive portfolio in order to approach new partnerships, and best practices for keeping on schedule with the demands of an art licensing business. In addition, this workshop will address skills needed to flourish, recommended resources for promotion, additional education, and community support.
Hey Fergus Falls, we're running a superfun workshop this Wednesday evening at the Spot. Come on out and learn how to apply for money to produce playful community projects around town. Link in profile. #yearofplay#springboardforthearts
Yesterday, my guy @guywhodraws and I ventured to the Saint Paul Art Crawl. We saw a lot of cool art and met cool people. Mission accomplished! Thank you to all the artists for opening their studios and showing their work. OX❤️
🌟Botanic Romantic is live! 🌟Found at botanicromantic.com. Dusted off the old herbalism chops to help friend and collaborator @tinykitelab out with this design project and it has turned out to be the most hilarious plant-nerd thing I've encountered. Botanic Romantic is all about making friends with place (Ottertail County, MN) and plant (elder, nettle, wild violet, sumac, and sweet cicely) through culinary and design means. Dakota developed fonts and "logos" for each herb as well as funny, weird, and well-researched articles about them. I contributed research, recipes, and some writing, all of which got me excited again about going outside to investigate the food and beverage potentials of overlooked, wildly-abundant plants. May all digital publication projects pull me outdoors the way this one has, and produce such dope and absurd (yet astute) reflections on the funny motifs that people develop around plants and flowers. #botanicromantic#herbalism#wildfood#nettle#elderberry#sumac#sweetcicely#violet#botanicalillustration#typeface#design#tinykitelab#springboardforthearts#hingeartsresidency#hingearts#kirkbride#fergusfalls#ottertailcounty
When the only other artist resident here happens to be the MacGyver of all artists! Holly Streekstra, you amaze me! She basically turned her tiny studio apt into a dark room to process some crazy chemical she's never worked with (using only found household items like a styrofoam tray from her chicken dinner). This is just one facet of her project. #hingearts#hingeartsresidency#springboardforthearts#fergusfalls#kirkbride
Artist tete-a-tete. What a treat! Holly and I got to hang out with local legend, artist extraordinaire, Kirk Williams! His studio is a magical world--just a fraction of what he's done. Thanks to #hingearts#springboardforthearts for putting us in touch! 🙏💗✨🎈#fergusfalls#kirkbride
ARTISTS & WRITERS!!! (Especially in MN, POC) this 'new' Hinge residency circa spring 2015 is totally rad! This is the view from my desk. Artists get separate studio space. Yesterday was stormy, today is HOT AF. Weather is moody like the grounds and ghosts, perfect for artist and writers! Bummed I don't get to go inside hospital bc of toxic mold, but if you're creative, you make do. It almost forces you to go deeper into your own imagination--take some leaps? It's only you and one other resident at a time, but if you're like me here, you might end up w/ a kickass collaboration--it's always one visual/musician/writer, I believe. You don't get fed, but I haven't done dishes since Tues--and you know what I say? FUCK IT!!!!!! A couple friends coming up for quick weekend--3 hr drive from Minneapolis--gonna look for swimming holes cause this is lake country. Visitors totally ok! They need and want artists from ALL stripes. Trump voters need to see more of us! Interact with us. We need to be having conversations, I realize. (But I'm still fucking pissed and am full of rage, though these happy pills are working wonders in terms of cranking up the optimum vs pessimism levels!) Lots of history up here. Holy shit, I gotta stop posting novellas. #byebye#hingearts#hingeartsresidency#kirkbride#fergusfalls#springboardforthearts
Excited to be a part of of the LISC and Springboard Artist Organizers pilot national cohort!! Picture at our impromptu field trip to @indigeroots Indigenous Culture Center in Saint Paul. @lisc_hq @springboardarts #springboardforthearts#lisc#artistorganizers
Yin/Yang of residencies. A day to get my shit together from Belgium, then drive 3 hours northwest to Fergus Falls, MN. Lake country, Trump country, beautiful landscapes! Here for a 2-week residency at the Kirkbride, a now shuttered state mental hospital that was built in 1890 and closed in 2007. Rich, rich history. There are people trying to tear it down but there are ppl like the ones who make up an interesting progressive artist community here, trying to save the Kirkbride and it's fascinating legacy in the last few years. This residency started in spring 2015. Already met so many interesting folks with amazing histories. I'm about to post a shit ton about it, with more info on FB, gotta link some artists!! Wow, this is going to be so interesting after my mind-blowing experience at #dickinsonhouse#chpinthestacks#springboardforthearts#hingearts#hingeartsresidency#fergusfalls#fergusfallsstatehospital#kirkbride (pictures taken on loaner bike, this is a huge complex, basically a village--hospital once housed over 2000 patients!) #unfiltered#googleit#newproject