GIRLS WARD: LEFT
shot on 35mm film
On January 11th of 2016, I was admitted to a mental institution. "Girls Ward: Left" is a
body of work created as a coping mechanism for my pain I still feel from my days at this place. It is a way for me to process all that led to my admittance, what happened while I was there, and everything afterwards. This series dives deep into years of pain and emotion that I have only recently learned to truly share with the world.
The title, "Girls Ward: Left" comes from a combination of three things. I had three inspirations in the making of this series. 1. Susanna Kaysen, author of "Girl, Interrupted", a memoir about her year-long stay in an institution. 2. Mary Ellen Mark, renowned photographer who did a series titled, "Ward 81" which documented the lives of the women in an institution on Ward 81. And 3. Myself, who stayed in an institution where the girls slept on the left side of the "dorms". So, Girls Ward: Left.
These photos were originally created for a black and white film photography class I took last quarter at SCAD. However, the work has since turned into the most well-known series of photos I have. These photographs and my story are now becoming something more than just another project for me.
On January 11th of 2019, I did an exhibition of the work. I have written a book of the same title about my stay in the institution that featured the photographs from the series, my writing, and even some of my paperwork from my stay. Girls Ward: Left is now being turned into a play in Ohio with the script being inspired by my story.
No matter the attention this project attracts, it will always be close to my heart. This series has been the most releasing thing I could have ever done for myself. It was certainly painful to re-live so many memories, but I have all the hope in the world that all the temporary pain will be worth the years of happiness to come.
Books are still available for purchase for a limited time. Please reach out to me through the contact page to order a copy! Details about a second show will be released soon.
Thank you for caring.
Eternal X's and O's
Milky water runs through their veins,
the memories have faded, but the pain stays the same.
Submerged in the shadows, all the scars have healed.
These women show the scary things I still feel.
Once I was clinging to life,
as I felt my breathe start to slow.
My arms became best friends with a knife,
and they loved to laugh when the blood started to flow.
With the turn of a page, my life had to change.
Attacked, tied down, and shoved into a box,
with the door to my past bolted and locked.
When my sentence was up,
the straight jacket came off.
Death within life and life within death,
these photos have helped me catch my breathe.
I took a pause and ripped off the gauze,
washed my hands and took a stand.
Somehow, a bathtub helped me take control
of a life I thought I lost when I fell down a dark hole.
My life is no longer taken over by feeling bereft,
because of the creation of Girls Ward: Left.
Photos by Nick Thomsen
Photos by Jordan Petteys
If you are interested in purchasing "Girls Ward: Left" the book, contact me here.
- January 11th, 2019: Solo exhibition and installation, The Loft at Fab'rik on Broughton Street, Savannah, Ga.
- April 26th, 2019: Stage adaptation of "Girls Ward: Left" the book (written by Robin Maaya) at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio
- May 2nd, 2019: Juried SCAD book competition in Atlanta, Ga.
This work is conceptualized and produced by Robin Elise Maaya. All rights reserved.