‘ANGELS IN STRAIT JACKETS: EXALTED ON THE WARD’
This installation is in honor of the many patients who lived at Georgia’s state mental hospital in Milledgeville over its 17 decades. The exhibit arises from a loving examination of the case history of one patient, “Mary Roberts,” an African American woman committed in 1911 to the Georgia Sanitarium for praying, crying, singing and shouting. Once on the wards, she danced as well, to the consternation of her doctors who reported her “exalted on the ward.”
Her case file provides a verbatim transcript of her exchange with the doctor interviewing her, as he works to have her define her conversations with dead ancestors as hallucinations. “They are not living, but they are real,” she insists. Her file mentions in passing the deaths of nine out of eleven children and four out of eight siblings.
We have each in different ways walked alongside Mary Roberts to understand her experience in the broadest context in a range of media and to learn from her what her doctors could not about the relationships between trauma and the mind and about the healing power of culture.
Lynn Marshall-LInnemeier, The Journey Projects