Care of Ward 81
Photographer Bill Diodato’s “Care of Ward 81” is a collection of images that explore the disintegration and decay of the now defunct women-only Ward 81 of the Oregon State mental Hospital. Knowing that he would be the last person to document this women’s ward, Diodato felt a sense of responsibility to remember the women who inhabited this place. Through his images, we experience the eerie feeling of traversing through this ward. Echoes of invisible lives pervade Diodato’s photographs, and whispered truths linger in the corridors. The artist states:
“Ward 81 is gone, and metaphorically so are the stereotypes associated with women who are afflicted with mental illness. My intention in publishing these images is to present the physical crumbling and decaying cells, which represent the end of old, corrupt, poorly-run asylums and bring about a sense of closure for the women of Ward 81.”
“Care of Ward 81” captures not only the decay and desolation of the ward, but also the hidden beauty of lives that remain unknown to us. The harshness of the ward’s devastation is in sharp contrast to a softer, more colorful world that shines through the debris. The result is a hauntingly beautiful collection of imagery that stimulates the senses and stirs the imagination.
The exhibit is accompanied by a fully illustrated book containing 44 images, with an introduction by renown documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark.
Until April 3
The Gallery at Hallmark
85 Avenue A · Turners Falls, MA 01376