These are copper cans of human ashes. Each contains one nameless patient that died and was cremated at the Oregon State Insane Asylum between 1883 and the 1970’s. The ash cans remain unclaimed by families of the dead. Over time, the human dust corroded the canisters, slowly exploding with an iridescent mineral crust and terrestrial hues. It’s a strange reincarnation, as photographed by David Maisel at the now abandoned mental hospital.
See 100+ David Maisel photos – the dead patients in the Library of Dust and x-rays of antique art objects as History’s Shadow at UCR CMP. “Shadow and Dust,” David Maisel, Aug 31 – Jan 1, California Museum of Photography, Riverside