Monday, March 31, 2008

Stephen Wilkes at The Griffin Museum of Photography

I am now officially a proud member of the board of directors of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester.

The above image was taken off the Griffin Museum's homepage just moments ago. They just finished their exhibition of Stephen Wilkes' hauntingly beautiful photographs of Ellis Island (second from left above). I thought about blogging this in my new blog, The Aht Blog (visual art found around Boston), but decided against it because I saw it on its last day.

(January 24 - March 30). The images were created in the dilapidated hospital wing of Ellis Island where few people could access. This was a place where the sick were quarantined, and sadly, many died here, after traveling all the way across the ocean with hopes of a new life in the New World.

Images © Stephen Wilkes

According to Wikipedia, Ellis Island's facility operated from January 1, 1892 to November 12, 1954, which means that it would have been impossible that Chinese immigrants came through here. The Chinese Exclusion Act was in effect from 1882 and was not entirely abolished until 1965 under Lyndon B. Johnson. So, factually speaking, there was no Chinese American heritage associated with Ellis Island. But it doesn't matter. All the same, it is powerfully symbolic as a place for immigrants, me included.

If you've seen my fine art photography work, you'll know that I'm a sucker for decrepit places and objects. I was nearly moved to tears as I toured around the Griffin's main gallery, admiring Stephen Wilkes' work. The large scale of the two pieces pictured was close to life size. They made you feel like you were really there, making the sadness of the hospital almost palpable, as if the spirit of the dead immigrants are there, teleported into the gallery in Winchester.


Vivian said...

You should check out Overlook Hotel. It's a hike that starts in Woodstock, NY and ends in this creepy abandoned and gutted hotel.

Pigmentia said...

wow, thanks for the link. I would love to photograph that. I'll definitely check that out if I visit Woodstock.