art asylum, 1997.

Art Asylum was a unique art experience featuring the works of The Morpheus Company and Cornerstone Glassworks. For the event, the hosting gallery was transformed into an insane asylum complete with attendants, a pharmacy theme bar, a therapeutic arts and crafts room and an electro-shock treatment area (sculptural installation).

Art Asylum

If I do not abandon reason, it will not abandon me.


Art is really nothing more than the sane mind on holiday. If it is to exist, there can be no fear of rejection, and no questioning of validity. For the artist, the challenge is to simply put the conscious concerns of sanity aside and allow art to happen on its own terms.

Rarely are the grounds on which art of any substance forms a pretty place. The greatest works of all time were often created by the strongest dementia. Their dark depths are a beauty we seem irrevocably drawn to, as if we connect with them on a level that is unavoidable to feel, but implicitly forbidden from mentioning in public. When dealing with creative expression, it is as if we feel compelled, in an almost Victorian sense, to lock the true intensity of our souls away in a sort of "Art Asylum."

The Irony is that, like the "laughter factories" of earlier times, we imprison this insane side of ourselves with no intention of curing it. We quietly lock up and look away from our madness, but we insure that it will never change or escape. It is as if we need that Hyde that lurks in every Jeckyll in order to be complete. Without our privately caged little madmen, we would have no perspective on what it is to feel. If sanity truly ruled this world in the manner that it pretends to, it would be a very bleak place.

Fortunately, insanity prevails enough to provide us with an occasional glimmer into the shadows so that we can understand why the light is worthwhile. In order for Beast to have the capability to love Beauty, he can not be pure monster, and for Beauty to love him she must be at least a small part beast. Perhaps it is a tenuous balance at best, but then again when dealing with notions of sanity what isn't.

We invite you to join us for an evening to celebrate the slim line between sanity and madness and the small space between that allows art to creep into this world. Please allow yourselves out of your "Art Asylum," so that you might join us in ours.

responsible parties

image credits:

photo: Charles Burnley
model: Alicia
hair & makeup: Jenni Tarver

art asylum creative team:

Russ Sharek
Caroline Sharek
Madelyn Zimmerman
John Morrison

technical assistance:

Tyson Hawkins
James Velez

special thanks:

Sunny Vanderbeck
Alberto Kerbow

additional thanks to:

Jeff Haynes
Genie Haynes
Corey Sharek
George Babbitt
Missy Bradshaw

06 / 05 / 2009