I arrived last Monday, January 30th and began my residency with Hinge Arts, a program of Springboard for the Arts - Lake Region. I have only been here a week and I have completed so much. Not only have I developed my next film project further, but I have had time to write and paint. Photo walks have been plenty, too. I have never had this kind of time to focus on my artistic career so I have been taking it all in and appreciating this opportunity.
Below are some of my photos of the Kirkbride, a retired mental health facility, where I have been living. I am staying in a renovated building where male nurses/staff of the hospital used to reside. The campus is being preserved with renovations happening over time. This includes the main hospital. Read more about this historic building here.
As mental health treatment has changed over the years, this building is a testament to our history, both in an educational and healing way. To tear down this building is to destroy the past. To do that is a detriment to our future and historic preservation. We can move forward and build off the history of this building by creating an educational and wellness related environment, an arts hub, and a venue for economic growth.
A little background: "This icon of Fergus Falls, like most historical buildings (and history itself) is full of stories and memories, some positive and some negative, meaning different things to different people. It became apparent that our community needed a safe, fun, and imaginative way to process and reflect on the building’s past, and interact and engage about its future. In addition, artists of all types were already doing projects about the building - from filmmaking to photo exhibits to short stories and playing an enormous role in attracting attention to the building’s fate." It is true that a place can mean many various things to different people. What I know from my own experience is that a place like this can be more than a building. It is not isolated from the community. It exists within the community; from those who make the building what it is and those who surround its campus. Preserving this building creates a bridge to reflection and action by exploring how memories and experiences take shape within our present realities. This is definitely about creating togetherness and forming a future.
I am a friend of this campus now and value the amount of time I have had while walking and sleeping on its grounds. I will continue to explore how this place has contributed to my practice as an artist and as a community-focused mental health advocate. I am in love with Fergus Falls, Minnesota now, too, so I plan to return at some point.