All posts by Julia Solis

Doorway in the Afternoon

  "... As I went forward, striding very strong, and making a good speed, I did hear presently a little noise upward in the night, and someways unto my left, that had seeming as that it were a strange low sound that did come down to me out of an hidden doorway above; for, indeed, though the sound did come from very nigh, as it did seem no more than a score feet above my head, yet was it a noise that did come out of a great and mighty distance, and out of a Foreign Place. And I did know

Concealed Weapon

      At first it barely caught the eye. A small pencil drawing on a wall that was otherwise completely untouched. On my last excursions I've focused even more on the rare patient drawings that still cling to deteriorating asylum walls. This one at first seemed fake, something added by a recent visitor. But the surrounding paint was flaking enough to peel and find out. It wasn't possible to peek beyond the bullet, since the more solid paint chips were starting

Watching You Fight For Your Life

  This is definitely what I would want to wake up to as a child with a life-threatening illness in this cheery old ward. How consoling it is to think that if you make it, some day you might have a family that is just as adorable and wholesome as those dolls. All the better if one of those dolls starts speaking to you after a week or two of lying there in a drugged stupor, for surely it has great advice. Although if it contains the words "die", "choke" or "kill", you might just be better

Old School Science

  It isn't often that you open a random desk drawer to find a jar with a pig foetus inside. But this derelict lab holds lots of preserved surprises. Bees in a honeycomb, crabs, frogs and coiled snakes, some collapsing into indefinable brown piles much like certain areas of the building that houses them. Admittedly, the pile of worms in the Kraft orange juice jar is a bit disagreeable to look at. Much better to check out the various dried bugs and wonder how they came to be brought in for

Waiting for the Light to Change

  A marvelous piece of art found in the decrepit isolation ward of a state hospital. Easy to miss at first glance, it's a replica of the setting that covers what used to be the TV screen behind the chair. I especially like the faithful rendering of the debris. Below, a close-up of the image followed by a picture of the same scene two years ago.    

Group Therapy

  Are your imaginary friends getting a little too intense? If so, maybe it's time to take a deep breath and spend some time with these dudes, who clearly only have your best interest at heart. Since these murals no longer exist in person, photos will have to suffice. Found at the splendid Dixmont State Hospital in Pennsylvania shortly before its demolition by Walmart in 2006.    

Building a Church

  This block, part of a desolate stretch of shuttered businesses in West Detroit, was once occupied by the Bible Community Mission. While the mission has long been abandoned, an apparent devotee has decided to keep spreading the word, tagging the nearby storefronts with religious messages. A vacant bar across the street now has a hand-painted sign declaring "wine is a mocker". Around the corner, a derelict training center serves as a new billboard for Jesus, although the interior -


  Found in what appears to be the play room of a shuttered factory in Connecticut, assembled from a monkey, a doll, a severed hand, two rifles, a globe, a horse, feathers, a frog, and Godzilla waving from the number 4.


  Waking up with this new president in place, it already feels like a better world than yesterday. And there are such beauties in his most recent home state. I first heard of Obama a few years ago in connection with my very favorite abandoned hospital. I had recently discovered it in a small town in southern Illinois and its creepy hallways, moss-carpeted floors and decaying beds inspired a continuous work in progress called Funeral Play. The (then) senator, I read while doing some


... this travelogue

Explorations and ruminations about time capsules near and far, with an eye towards the structures, textures and playgrounds of decay. A companion blog for

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