86 Reasons (for asylum Admission)


Northeast Ohio based porcelain artist Kimberly Chapman attended the Cleveland Institute of Art while simultaneously becoming a grandmother, graduating in 2017. She works through a female lens, often shedding light on dark topics, the basis of the exhibition “86 Reasons.” The gathering of delicate, white porcelain figural sculptures combined with black-and-white tintype photography prompt an examination of why women were sent to asylums and the botched diagnosis and treatments they received there.  Ms. Chapman states,” “Early asylums were brutal places, especially for women, said Chapman. The fairer sex was the prime focus of male physicians, especially during the Victorian era. Women were thought to be at particular risk due to reproductive disorders. Almost any form of behavior – excited chattering with other women, reading novels, lack of enthusiasm for domestic chores or grief – was pegged as hysteria. Women and girls were kept under social control by their husbands and fathers with the threat of being sent away to a mental institution.”

The title for the exhibition was taken from the document, “86 Reasons for Admission,” published by West Virginia’s Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, 1862-1889. Ms. Chapman notes that the document lists ludicrous excuses for locking away “inconvenient” women and girls; included on the list:” Imaginary Female Trouble, Immoral Life, Laziness, Menstrual Deranged, Novel Reading, Fits, Religious Enthusiasm, Bad Company, Egotism, Female Disease, Time of Life, Grief, Tobacco, and Masturbation.” For a shilling the public was invited on weekends and holidays to visit and gawk at the unfortunate souls inside London’s St Mary Bethlehem Hospital. Amusement and curiosity lured 96,000 yearly visitors.

Ms. Chapman populates “86 Reasons” with delicate white porcelain figures wearing facemasks of molten gold, incarcerated, skirted women in straight jackets, some doing inventive things with the birds left in their care. She includes championship cup trophies that recognize infamous doctors who through misdiagnosis or inept procedures caused patients considerable pain and death. There are silky smooth, jumbo porcelain teeth gingerly wrapped in porcelain-coated gauze, there are eighty-six numbered toothbrushes, each identical except for the bristles made unique by the user’s brushing patterns. A wall installation reveals a dozen outstretched porcelain hands cradling jumbo souvenir shillings.

Visitors to the Fawick Gallery exhibition of “86 Reasons” will not be assessed a shilling nor will they be amused. Kimberly Chapman’s hauntingly ethereal porcelain figures and their ambience will incite awareness, indignation, empathy for the victims and what they endured, simply because they were women.

Exhibition Dates

August 30, 2021–September 24, 2021
By appointment August 23–27
Reception: September 10th, 5 pm–8 pm

Kimberly Chapman Photo

Kimberly Chapman

Kimberly Chapman is a porcelain sculptor living and working in Northeast Ohio. She creates work through a female lens – shedding light on dark topics.


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Photography of the event will be used to promote the University and your attendance provides permission to use your likeness in promotional material.

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