more image than a shade . . .

Before me floats an image, man or shade, 
Shade more than man, more image than a shade; 
For Hades’ bobbin bound in mummy-cloth 
May unwind the winding path; 
A mouth that has no moisture and no breath 
Breathless mouths may summon; 
I hail the superhuman; 
I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.


In my world there are no coincidences . . .


Dear David,

In my world there are no coincidences. Everything happens in perfect timing. I came across your website through a posting of your work on the internet. I followed the link and found a series of photographs entitled “Asylum”. I was immediately drawn to them and found myself welling up with tears. They were haunting and touched me deeply. There was one in particular that humbled me, saddened me and gave me strength all at the same time. It was called “faith . . .”.  I immediately thought of my 3rd Great Grandmother, Ann Eliza Velsor Smith who was the cousin to Walt Whitman’s mother, Lousia Velsor Whitman. She was the mother of to nine children. Her youngest, Elizabeth Parr Smith, was my 2nd Great Grandmother.

In April of 1832, Ann Eliza’s husband died in the cholera epidemic in New York City.  She was

left with the nine children ages 6 months through 12. She was committed to the Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum where she died 32 years later.  I don’t believe she was insane but rather suffering from a great loss and deep grief.  Her children were given to relatives and close friends but she never again saw the outside world.

I was incredibly saddened when this story was passed to me. When I saw your photograph, “faith . . .”, I had a moment of knowing that faith must have carried her through her grief and dark days inside the walls of the asylum. I imagined her room as it was in your photograph. The praying hands, the peeling paint, the aloneness, the isolation and solitude. I believe that Ann Eliza spoke to me through your powerful photograph. I believe she let me know that her faith carried her. I believe she let me know she was ok. I believe that her message came to me through your work to help me with my loss and grief.

I am blessed and honored to have encountered your work. I would like to have “faith . . .” to hang in my home as a tribute to Ann Eliza and as a reminder that we can get through anything that may come our way if we have faith.


Kenneth Oliver

Poland, Maine



passive . . .

“I have always found it odd that people who think passive aggressively ignoring a person is making a point to them. The only point it makes to anyone is your inability to articulate your point of view because deep down you know you can’t win. It’s better to assert yourself and tell the person you are moving on without them and why, rather than leave a lasting impression of cowardness on your part in a person’s mind by avoiding them.”


~Shannon Adlerfemale mummy

It’s dark because you are trying to hard . . .

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. 
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. 
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. 
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. 

I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. 
Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. 
When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. 
No rhetoric, no tremolos, 
no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. 
And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. 
Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. 

So throw away your baggage and go forward. 
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, 
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. 
That’s why you must walk so lightly. 
Lightly my darling, 
on tiptoes and no luggage, 
not even a sponge bag, 
completely unencumbered.”


~Aldous Huxley

Brooke.IMCAsylum.BW 59