(un)Forgotten



My Brother went to Mansfield (4).jpg

“(un)Forgotten” runs from October 4 to October 18, 2019.

Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 4-8:00 p.m. and by appointment.

For more information call 917-922-8090.

 
 

"(un)Forgotten" is a project about a dark family secret, we NEVER spoke of when I was a child. The story of how, in the 50’s, Intellectually Challenged children were sent to institutions and pretty much “forgotten” about. This is what happened to my brother. I have told my story only a handful of times publicly, and twice was approached by someone telling me about their brother or sister, that they haven’t met. I learned that it is a very common shameful secret. My story is not about blame, but more-so, circumstantial of the times.

My goal is to bring change from a lost past, breaking the silence and stigma. Most importantly, bringing a voice of advocacy to those unable to speak and so desperately in need.

Below will give you a feeling of my project.

Mansfield Training School and Hospital

 
Mansfield Training School, 2017

Mansfield Training School, 2017

 

I hated this place my whole life growing up.

I only went once when I was 17, and it scared me. I went to visit my brother... Mansfield Training School, an institute for the "Feebleminded", shut down in the 90's for all the right reasons. Overcrowding, abuse, neglect, sanitation, etc. The people living there were then placed in small home communities, my brother being one. Today he still lives in the same one he was transferred to and is extremely lucky. He is also one of my favorite people on this earth.

As for Mansfield... it was donated to Southern Connecticut State College and since abandoned. Overgrown, boarded up and left, actually left as it was. Strangely, just left. Papers everywhere, toilet paper rolls still full, patients files... it's eerie.

While I was in Boston in August, I went and photographed it. I really wanted to see and be in Andy’s history. I was ready to do a whole photo essay on how terrible it was — all in black and white. However, when I got there and started shooting, I keep seeing signs of effort. Signs that somebody did once care. I actually found it hard to hate the place. I am still sad for all those who were there, but there is no hate. Here is the photo that changed what my heart knew... it was the houses on the curtains.

 
Mansfield, Curtain, 2017

Mansfield, Curtain, 2017

 

This press release posted on August 8th 2019 on Linkedin and has received over 95,000 views. People are ready to hear…

“All of us”, our first family picture all together, July, 2012. Photo: Nadja Settel

“All of us”, our first family picture all together, July, 2012. Photo: Nadja Settel

My reason for going public about this is to inspire others to reconnect and give a much needed voice to those that are still “lost” in the system. I also wish to inspire siblings like myself, the chance to heal from the guilt associated in what we were all taught to do… look the other way.

Andy is one of the lucky ones to be reconnected with his family, unfortunately it is not very common.

Yet.