Wednesday, May 30, 2007

First Friday June 1st, 2007 Rachel Herrick "Good Intentions: Dorothea Dix Hospital"

The exhibition explores Dorothea Dix Hospital & benefits the mentally ill

Artist Rachel Herrick’s exhibition “Good Intentions: Dorothea Dix Hospital” will be at Crocker’s Mark Gallery (613 West Morgan Street, Raleigh) June 1- July 20, 2007.

An opening reception will be held June 1 from 6-9 p.m. 25% of sales from the exhibit will be donated to the Wake County branch of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI-Wake).

Gallery Hours: tues- fri 11-2 & 3-5, wed till 9pm, sat 1-4, or by appointment. To make an appointment call the gallery at 919.612.7277 or 919.834.4961.

The exhibit features a new series of paintings by Herrick addressing the past, present and future of North Carolina’s mental health care system. Herrick worked in cooperation with Dix Hospital to explore the hospital’s campus and capture the evocative remains of its architecture as a kind of cultural landscape.

Exhibition statement

“It was discovered that the insane were not beasts and demons, but men whom disease had left disarmed and wounded in the struggle of life…”

--Dix Hospital Superintendent Eugene Grissom in his 1874 hospital report

Dorothea Dix Mental Hospital is closing after 150 years of treating North Carolina’s mentally ill. Many of the buildings already sit quiet and empty. Their wide, dirty windows, empty staircases and rotten moldings are crumbling architectural reminders of the care that went into planning the hospital and the great optimism of its original mission to heal the insane.

Today hardly anyone can remember what the original use of any given building was. Over the years Dix’s landscape has shifted and bent to meet the needs of the ever-growing flood of patients.

One former physician described working at Dix as wading through “seas of obstacles.” Over-extended and under-funded, mental health providers appear shell-shocked when asked about their work—an expression echoed on the faces of patients and their families.

The buildings and the people are exhausted, yet continue in their good intentions and willingness to do whatever it takes to ease suffering.

This art is meant to be evocative of the troubled and complex history of mental health care at Dorothea Dix, and provocative about the future. Is there something to be learned from the ruin of this old hope?

About the artist

Rachel Herrick has worked as an artist for over a decade and her art has been exhibited around the country. In the fall of 2006 Herrick was commissioned by the town of Cary NC to create public art out of recycled fire hydrants. In addition to being a professional artist Herrick is the Exhibitions Coordinator for Raleigh's Visual Art Exchange, a non profit arts organization, and teaches art to blind K-12 students at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in the Outreach Program.

Herrick’s work reflects her artistic interest in human perception and vision, which comes in part from her experience with pseudo tumor cerebri (PTC), a brain disease that damaged her optic nerve at the age of seven. She frequently uses the interplay of her corrected and uncorrected vision to engage viewers with scenes that are simultaneously familiar and foreign, like something glimpsed out of the corner of the eye.

Herrick explores cultural landscapes by painting the places we live or have lived and capturing the fingerprints of our traditions and habits. In 2006 Herrick’s series “Diplopia” addressed urban development and the juxtaposition of classic and contemporary architecture. In June 2007 Herrick will unveil her newest series of paintings on Dorothea Dix Hospital and the treatment of the mentally ill.


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