David Maisel‘s Library of Dust is a meditation on the cremains of former OSH patients. Until 2004, the urns were locked in a basement and not public knowledge. The patients died at the hospital between 1883 (the year the facility opened, when it was called the Oregon State Insane Asylum) and the 1970’s; their bodies have remained unclaimed by their families.
Over a period of twenty years the basement in which the urns were locked flooded repeatedly. Studio360 describes well the chemical reactions ongoing between the copper, elements within the ashes and substances afixed by flood water. Maisel’s studies are a “yearbook of the socially dispossessed.”