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Mary Ellen Mark: Ward 81

Winter 2023
Main Gallery

Curators: Gaëlle Morel and Kaitlin Booher

In 1976, American photographer Mary Ellen Mark spent thirty-six days living in the Oregon State Hospital with licensed therapist and writer Karen Folger Jacobs, Ph.D., to photograph the patients of Ward 81—a high security, locked psychiatric facility for women. Mark’s unique access led to a nuanced and compelling portrayal of female mental health patients. This exhibition brings together the resulting photographs, audio recordings and archival materials to offer an in-depth view of the artist’s experimental and groundbreaking approach to documentary-style photography.


Organized by The Image Centre, Toronto in collaboration with Falkland Road Inc./The Mary Ellen Mark Foundation, New York.

A woman peeks out of a small window in a doorway. Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark.
Fig. 1

Mary Ellen Mark, Tommie Peeking Out of Room Window, Ward 81, Oregon State Hospital, Salem, Oregon, USA, 1976, gelatin silver print © Mary Ellen Mark Studio, New York