CHRISTINA RAY is pleased to present Erasure, an exhibition of new work by Heather L. Johnson. In an installation of embroideries, watercolors and a text-based wall drawing, Johnson revisits a poignant moment in the history of late nineteenth-century Hudson County, New Jersey, where long-forgotten insane asylums and penitentiaries once existed amidst violence and political corruption.
Heather L. Johnson's seemingly quiet installations, upon closer inspection, often take the viewer by surprise. Messages woven into white linen fabric as words in white thread appear almost as whispers. Faint outlines of buildings that have long since crumbled remind us of the fragile and temporary nature of our existence. News headlines of the time, pulled out of context and stitched into the embroideries – "31st Typhoid Case at Mental Hospital, " "Man Succumbs Under Shower at Mental Diseases Hospital" – remind us that spaces and the people who lived and died in them are inseparable.
Uncovering the complicated history of institutions and asylums that once existed here, the artist revives some of what was lost as she questions our tendency, in American culture, to tear down the inefficient, inconvenient or painful parts of our past.