ANDREW BLANCHARD: Lynn! How the heck are you? It’s been a while since we’ve talked… I know you’ve been entrenched working on this massive new project… How is it going and what does it encompass?
LYNN MARSHALL-LINNEMEIER: I’m good, great actually. I just finished the installation for Fulton County (GA) at Wolf Creek Library near the airport. It was a big public art project, a part of the 1% For Art program. The installation included sculpture, photography, and textiles. This project was part of the Journey Projects, which began in 2010. The Journey Projects functions through the universality of ancestry. Everyone and everything has an ancestor.
The project’s title is Beneath the Ogirishi Tree and includes an 18′ sculpture adorned with over 800 handmade ceramic objects, hundreds of beads, and tiled seating. The installation also includes a 153 square foot textile work that includes photographs of ancestors of residents who reside in Fulton County. The teen area features photographs taken by youngsters from the area. The Ogirishi Tree is a sacred tree in West Africa–found on altars in some communities. The installation brought together so many people from the South Fulton Community.
AB: It sounds to me that you have been extremely productive, busy! Congrats. So, for as long as I have known you, it seems, much as with the Wolf Creek Project, that your work is very community oriented, with oral and ancestral history at the core of your conceptual intention. Am I right, and if so, could you elaborate?
LL: Yes, that’s pretty accurate. The community projects are heavily photo-based and include a variety of media. They rely on collaboration. The community builds components of the installations, which are intergenerational. For instance, children as young as three made cyanotypes, a non-silver photographic process. I worked at two arts centers in South Fulton County and a church. The cyanotypes were made from pre-treated fabric were later sewn into the textile work. Elders from the community donated photographs of people that they wanted to remember. I also did free workshops for teens and they photographed the landscape. This interaction with community is really what energizes the projects and the part that I enjoy most.
AB: And what about your current project?
LL: I was introduced to Central State Hospital through Mab Segrest. Mab was the Fuller-Maathai Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Connecticut College from 2002-2014. She has published articles on Central State Hospital’s history and is working on a book-length study. We met in 2011 to discuss the project.
The exhibition is informed by archival material from Central State Hospital, and in particular the intake documents of a woman we are calling “Mary Roberts.” Because of confidentiality laws we cannot use her real name. She was interned in 1911 at what was then the Georgia State Sanitarium for singing, praying, crying and shouting. The archival materials refer to her “exalted on the ward” and I imagine her dancing as she attempts to heal herself. The exhibit also remembers the over 25,000 patients who were buried on the grounds of the hospital, which opened in 1842 as Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum. Located in Milledgeville, Georgia, what is now known as Central State Hospital was at times in the 1940s and 1950s the largest mental hospital in the world. Milledgeville was also the state capital of Georgia from 1804 until 1868 when the legislature moved it to Atlanta.
The mixed media installation is entitled Angels In Straight Jackets, Exalted on the Ward. It includes a straightjacket installation. My goal is to invert the meaning of the straight jacket in a way similar to Anna Schuleit Haber’s installations at Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC). It’s quite a challenge.
AB: Lynn, many thanks for sharing your new projects with the Uncompromising Tang audience and me! Cheers!
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier: is a Visual Mythologist, a Maker of Things. She works through the Journey Projects, which uses community collaboration to address notions of ancestry and memory. Her work weaves together stories, myths and visions from the prehistoric past to the present day through large-scale sculptures, mixed-media assemblages, and installations, using a variety of media including photography, painting, textiles, oral histories and other primary source documents. An honors graduate of the Atlanta College of Art (1990), she received a BFA in photography and an MA from the University of Mississippi in Southern Studies (2005).
Andrew Blanchard:is an artist-printmaker living in Spartanburg SC. He is currently represented by M Contemporary in New Orleans, LA and Southside Gallery in Oxford, MS. His prints have been included in Schiffer Publishing’s Printmakers Today and the Southern Edition of New American Paintings magazine. Recently, Oxford American magazine selected Blanchard as one of the New Superstars of Southern Art. In 2014, his work will be featured in the International Painting Annual No. 4, published by Manifest Creative Research Gallery in Ohio. He became pals with Lynn Linnemeier while earning an MFA in printmaking at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in 2004.