Medium exhibition detail Carrie Mae Weems Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me
Medium exhibition Carrie Mae Weems Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me

August 29 - December 3, 2017 
Zuckerman Museum of Art | East Galleries & Mortin Galleries
Teresa Bramlette-Reeves & Justin Rabideau, co-curators

Was the microwave like a television?

Exactly.  Just like a television screen with the faces being shown on it.

My grandfather said if I told anybody about the vision, they were going to lock me away.

Why was everyone so upset?

Because I saw it.

And you’re not supposed to see things.

                - The People in the Attic: A true story of the haunting of Doretta Johnson

Medium explored the varied and often complicated relationships that our society has with ghosts, spirits, hauntings, and those who act as conduits between worlds. The investigation began with the Spiritualist movement, which evolved in the United States in the mid-1800’s and was popular through the 1920s, a time period that parallels the invention and rise of photography. Seeking a form of proof or documentation of their abilities, Spiritualists employed photographic means.

These often-fraudulent images were represented in Medium in several forms, as are other methods used to connect believers to the afterlife. In later years, disembodied and disturbing presences are tracked through the work of parapsychologists, represented in this show through the archive of Dr. William Roll. In the late 1980s Dr. Roll was enlisted to help rid Doretta Johnson’s Indiana home of an unwelcome presence.  His team of trained investigators methodically mapped and documented unusual sensations and occurrences, eventually identifying the ghost of a little girl as the source of the problem.  Through their efforts Doretta’s visions found validation.  The things she wasn’t supposed to see became a lens for understanding her past and making peace with the present.

The arc of both the early Spiritualist movement and the Doretta Johnson case, from exploration and visitation to revelation, is repeated in varying forms in Medium, a show that presents historical efforts and contemporary artistic interpretations that address an emotive form of knowledge.  Medium asked, if one can sense the intangible, glean messages from the un-worded, register the impact of the weightless, and learn from the unknowable—our guides and interpreters provide the means to a slippery truth. These efforts reveal a complicated landscape of power, hope, desire, and deceit that mirrors a current sense that truth is based on belief rather than fact.

Artists: Ben Coleman, Stephanie Dowda, Lacey Prpić Hedtke, Susan MacWilliam, John Bunion (J.B.) Murray, Fernando Orellana, Shana Robbins, T. Lang and George Long, Dan R. Talley, P. Seth Thompson, Carrie Mae Weems

Historical Objects and Archival Materials from: The American Society for Psychical Research, Inc., Collection of Dr. Patricia Poulter, and the William G. Roll Papers, University of West Georgia, Ingram Library, Special Collections


Medium is presented in conjunction with a vinyl record, “Medium: Paranormal Field Recordings and Composition, 1907-2017.” The audio supplement to the exhibition features sound recordings selected by Ben Coleman, including previously unreleased “Poltergeist Recordings” from the Society for Psychical Research in the United Kingdom and compositions by Dedekind Cut, Eluvium, and Frank Perry.

Each vinyl copy of the album includes a digital download and display poster with expanded content of artists featured in the exhibition. The album is available for purchase at $20 at the Zuckerman Museum of Art. It is also available via  Light in The Attic.