Curated by Maggie Goddard, native Clevelander and Brown University PhD candidate, this exhibition features an early twentieth century lantern slide collection from the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Hospital, now called the Neurological Institute of New York, part of the Columbia University Medical Center presently owned by vernacular photography collector and dealer, House of Mirth Photos’ Stacy Waldman. The former owner of the collection, Smith Ely Jelliffe, M.D. and Ph.D., likely used the slides for different public and professional presentations.
A practicing physician, Jelliffe explored and developed psychosomatic medicine and promoted psychoanalysis in the United States. The exhibition will note his legacy but also focus on the history of mental health treatment, lantern slides, and outsider art. The collection includes images of the hospital, significant figures of mental health treatment, patients, and patients’ artwork.
The collection challenges viewers and elicits conversations about the ethics of viewing. How can we view patients in a way that humanizes rather than further objectifying them? How can we represent individuals while recognizing the limits of the archive, including the uneven inclusion of their diagnoses, names, and personal stories? If we consider the history of outsider art, how can we read these images as part of that legacy, and how can we blur the distinction between art and clinical tool?
A secondary artist response show and a series of workshops are proposed by contributing artists. We are collaborating with a variety of partners who work in different capacities—different media, professions, and fields—to reflect a range of responses to the collection and the exhibition and to deepen the conversation about Dr. Jelliffe’s slides.