From the Curator

A Curator’s Musings

Isolation: the act of detaching oneself so as to be alone.


Here, presented in this gallery, are unique and individual acts of isolation. Each stitch, each brushstroke, each shutter click—a means to an end.


At first glance, the repetition seems intentional—an emphasis of some concept that alludes us. But upon further reflection, this repetition becomes clear to the audience as frantic and frenzied; an obsession.


This begs the question: To what end, then? The artist, and subject of their own desires, cannot tell us. But perhaps, this microcosm of seclusion can provide insight into the broader macrocosm of society—of human nature itself.

~ Elliot Rodgers


The Story


March 1st, 2015, the local fire department in Elmwood, Wisconsin arrives at a home on the outskirts of town. Prompted by a smoke alarm, the firefighters reported to the house and quickly stopped the flames. By the time they did though, it was too late to save the single resident inside.


That resident, known to us in this gallery as Jamie Doe, burnt to death in a kitchen fire, most likely caused by the overdone pot roast. But so much more than the charred remains of both Jamie and their hunk of meat were to be discovered that day.

In addition to their diaries and journals, Jamie created a shrine to themselves within the walls of their home. Not much is known about them, except the death of their parents just a few years earlier (in 2012) meant the house fell into their hands—and that’s where they remained until their own death. Perhaps the parents’ sudden deaths triggered this reclusive behavior, but the only evidence we have of any kind of connection between Jamie and their mother and father is a single photograph.


Locals of Elmwood recall the moving vans and seeing flashes of Jamie in the front yard, but never ran into them in town—not even the local gas station. For the three years they lived in Elmwood, Jamie never left their property.


In this gallery, we have only fragments of the collection within the house. But even with all of the pieces put together, we have only fragments of Jamie’s life. Within the home was a complete absence of references to childhood, of anything pre-dating Jamie’s ownership of the house. Did they intentionally remove these reminders? Or was the house an empty shell when they inherited it, leaving gaps Jamie had to fill on their own?


Regardless of the motivation, we have brought here the end result: a fascinating array of completely handmade objects that traverse mediums and defy expectations—the life and death of a recluse.