Archive for the ‘ Curator's Comments ’ Category


It was my first ghost hunt. I went with friends who booked a tour to Pennhurst Penitentiary located in Spring City, PennsylvaniaAsylumNo25 known for its paranormal experiences. Not only was I interested in the possibility of encountering some spirits but I also thought it would make for an interesting photo shoot. And yes we did experience something with the spirit known as Emily.

While waiting for the sun to set and darkness to take over, I was busy taking photos. I’m usually in the habit of checking my camera for every photo I take and everything looked fine until I uploaded to edit and noticed that mostly everything I shot was blurry. I have a steady hand so I’m not sure whether it was nerves or something else. Strangely I did find my camera to be a bit uncooperative that night. Anyway, it all makes for an interesting opportunity to portray the ghoulishness and unwelcome feeling that permeates the place.

12319Pennhurst was opened in 1903 and was originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic. Residents were admitted into three categories; mental, physical, and dental and were generally considered unfit for citizenship and a menace to society and as a result recommended for custodial care.

After years of allegations of abuse by institutional caretakers, Bill Baldini a CBS10 correspondent anchored a five part television series entitled “Suffer the Little Children” exposing the neglectful and appalling conditions of widespread abuse that eventually led to a class action suit on behalf of its patients. You can view this documentary at

The Halderman Case was a federal case that alleged that the conditions at Pennhurst were unsanitary, inhumane and dangerous and a violation of the fourteenth amendment. In 1983, nine employees were indicated on charges of beating patients some of whom were in wheelchairs.

newspaper-full-page-1972 Pennhurst was closed on December 9, 1987 after a settlement agreement that required all of its residents be provided a more civilized service. It’s listed on the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience as an historic site dedicated to remembering the struggles for justice. It is currently available for private haunted tours and is a major attraction during Halloween. To learn more or book a tour visit

To view the entire series of Asylum please visit my website.


CURATOR’S COMMENTS: Crisis: The Day the Oil Stopped Pumping

Crisis: The Day the Oil Stopped Pumping is a photographic narrative that ponders the question of what would happen to the United States if it ran out of oil? Oil is a non-renewable energy resource that is becoming scarce. Currently there is no alternative plan in place for the day when oil can no longer be produced. Without an alternative plan the world will find itself in a time before electricity.

So what would happen the day the oil stops pumping? The affects on medicine, culture, transportation, trade, economic stability and food production would be on a global scale and lead to widespread poverty. Starvation and anarchy would ensue in the most extreme cases and more wars would be waged for the quest for oil. Our daily lives are completely dependent on oil. Is our thirst for oil so great that we are willing to lose a countless amount of lives and destroy the world as we know it?

This project was inspired by the current events surrounding climate change and the energy crisis. My objective is not be lecturing or take sides on a a controversial issue. Instead, the pictures in this piece are meant to provoke thought and become a motivator for change. Lack of political will and a public hesitant to change is tragic. But without a plan for change it will be tragedy for sure. – Rebecca A. Battle

Below is a link to a photographic short that shows our dependence on oil and how integral it is to our daily lives. For the photoplay please visit:



It took two years from the initial concept to the last snap in January 2011 to complete G-Woman. The idea or inspiration came by way of the Great Recession and concerns that the crime rate would increase. It got me thinking about the Great Depression in the 1930s’ when crime was rampant and heroes and anti-heroes emerged in a very public way.

Having worked with Maureen “Mo” Whelan before I thought it would be fun to cast her as G-Woman, even though I think she would have preferred to be the gangster. She was a good sport about it and well the photos speak for themselves. It was her idea that the photoplay would make a good comic book and what a good idea that was!

This was Dana Miley’s first project and first time holding a weapon and was a natural fit as The Criminal. His father rebuilds automobiles and gave Dana a customized Plymouth International truck that made the perfect companion as G-Woman’s truck The Black Bomber. And so everything fell into place perfectly.

Thank you Mo and Dana…..and the Black Bomber.


California in the 1970’s experienced the worst drought in recorded history. People had to stop watering their lawns and soon pools started to dry up. Skaters took their boards from the streets to the lush curves of empty pools searching neighborhoods for no one home. Climbing fences, they skated in empty pools for hours perfecting tricks and moves that became revolutionary. It should come as no surprise that in the current economic climate the tradition of backyard pool skating is making a come back on foreclosed homes.

Now there are skateboard parks all over the United States that replicate empty pools. Over the course of two days I spent hours with skaters at Venice Skateboard Park in California. It wasn’t my initial intention frankly. I needed to escape the Los Angeles heat and get to the beach. But I just couldn’t resist exclusively shooting at the park. I snapped five hundred and twenty six pictures in two days. It was difficult editing through them. Not because of my artistry, but because of the artistry of the skaters.

Having spent a good amount of time there, I was able to see narratives unfold. In Rail, monographs No. 7 through 10  tell a little story about a young man sliding the board along a rail. He crashes so hard that he busts his leg and starts to cry in pain. My first instinct was to run to him or call 911. But I had to remember that I was there as an observer. One of his buds rushes over to him to tell him, “we don’t do that here. Get up.” The last frame says it all. His buds ease his pain with a joint.

In The Approach, three boys contemplate and have a serious discussion on how and who is going to enter the bowl. A hero appears, but ultimately becomes disengaged. In the meantime, an old schooler demands that they get out of his way. They watch how he enters the bowl with ease. Ultimately the kids are left with mustering the courage and taking the plunge.

In so doing, the skateboard culture continues.


Where the damn oil goes!


I had forgotten that I had taken these photographs of an abandoned BP gas station two years ago while along my travels. Interesting  irony considering what’s happening in the Gulf. No other commentary needs to be added as the photos speak for themselves.