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Letters Never Sent: Lydia B. Angier Writing from Rochester State Hospital

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Letters Never Sent: Lydia B. Angier Writing from Rochester State Hospital
Presented by Alison Bergblom Johnson
Sunday, November 19 | 1:00 - 2:00 PM
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Join us for a presentation in the Main Gallery West by Alison Bergblom Johnson about her long-term research project, Letters Never Sent: Lydia B. Angier Writing from Rochester State Hospital.

For three years a woman who did not want to be a patient at what was then the Second Hospital for the Insane at Rochester wrote to family members, doctors, and officials describing incidents she and other patients experienced, what she thought the other patients should be eating and doing, how money had been stolen from her, her past life as an entrepreneur, and the $150 a month she had made from her business (in 1895 dollars). Hospital records list Lydia B. Angier as not having any correspondents, even though her letters made their way into the files of the State Board of Corrections and Charities, and into the papers of one of the board's directors. The vast majority of the letters Angier wrote ended up filed in the hospital Superintendent's office. Angier wrote with a purpose, to be released, which she was not. However, for artist Alison Bergblom Johnson these letters feel deeply familiar, as chronicles of disabled life. Bergblom Johnson will share excerpts from the letters, and explore the ways they resonate with her own experiences receiving treatment.

Alison Bergblom Johnson is an artist whose work crosses media and genre, exploring disability, identity, and joy. Her collage, storytelling and essays often approach taboo topics (disability, sexuality) in nonthreatening, inclusive ways. Some of the organizations she's partnered with include Mixed Blood Theatre, Springboard for the Arts, Mn Artists at the Walker Art Center, and the Minnesota Historical Society's Gale Library.

Image created by Fergus Falls State Hospital and is in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.