film

Cambridge State Hospital : Bliss symbols

Sink and cupboards, Cottage 6.

Sink and cupboards, Cottage 6.

The buildings of the Cambridge State Hospital had a few remnants of signage that I had never seen before. I heard them referred to as "Bliss symbols".  My understanding was that the symbols were used as an additional way of communicating with clients who couldn't read. I most often saw them labeling sinks and bathrooms and other commonly used spaces.

I just recently heard an episode of WNYC's Radiolab that contained a segment about these symbols created by Charles Bliss.  There is a much more complicated story behind them than I expected and they were created with much grander ambitions in mind.  I thought it was a pretty interesting story.

The Radiolab segment is located at http://www.radiolab.org/story/257194-man-became-bliss/ .  The segment about Charles Bliss begins at about 5:30 into the stream on the page.

Minnesota State Arts Board grant

hospital-27.jpg

In March of 2011, I was awarded an Artist's Initiative Grant by the Minnesota State Arts Board to complete a photographic book of the Cambridge State Hospital series.  I have been working since then to digitize a large number of the 4x5 negatives, correct the scanned photographs, and then attempt to edit the series into a cohesive body of work.  I am currently looking into on-demand printing services and hope to have things ready to do a test pressing within the next 4-6 weeks. 

I will also be upgrading the website to reflect the new, improved images I've been working on, such as this one.