The Athens Asylum: One Hundred Years of a Healing Landscape

The Southeast Ohio History Center is currently featuring an exhibit, The Athens Asylum: One Hundred Years of a Healing Landscape. A special part of this presentation is the black and white photo exhibition of local photographer, Kenner Bush. The photos, taken when the Athens Asylum was a mostly deserted place over the past quarter century have captured “the empty spaces, the cheerless patient wards, the specious hallways, the arched basement corridors, the signs outside of the emptiness inside, the grave markers – identified only by number – standing as sentinels on nearby hills.”

There is a growing interest and fascination regarding the Athens Asylum. It is gaining interest in the architecture and the history of the old state hospital. Kenner Bush spent time documenting the silence of the asylum before the recent renewal of interest.

“Our lives are crowded with noise, screaming color, instant communication. In my photography I seek something else. I favor the ordinary over the spectacular, the subjects that whisper rather than shout” says Bush of his work.

He continues, “most often it is details in the landscape that command my attention, impressing me with a lyrical sense of rhythm, balance, order, harmony, and – if I am really lucky – a dash of magic or mystery or make believe. Reducing the world to black, white, and shades of gray is essential for me in reaching for a personal interpretation of what I see and feel.”

The Kenner Bush photographic exhibit of black and white images of the Athens Asylum will be on display only until the end of September.

The Southeast Ohio History Center, at 24 West State Street in Athens, is open from 10am until 4pm Wednesday through Saturday.

Do not miss this photographic moving and silently eloquent portrayal of an interlude in the changing times of this historic institution.

For more information about the Kenner Bush photo exhibit or the Athens Asylum: One Hundred Years of a Healing Landscape contact the Southeast Ohio History Center at 740-592-2280.

Image: Black and white photos of arches in the basement of the Athens Asylum by Kenner Bush