Romayne Kilde grew up in Fergus Falls, MN and graduated from High School in 1977.
While attending the Fergus Falls Community College, she lived in the Fergus Falls State Hospital Student Dormitory located on the 4th Floor of the West Wing. Romayne transferred to St. Cloud State University, graduating in 1985 with a B.A. English Literature, cum laude and went on to have a successful career in Higher Education Publishing as a textbook editor.
Romayne retired in 2012 to pursue writing full-time and has nearly completed a book on the architectural history of the Fergus Falls State Hospital. Romayne recently began exploring the visual arts and was awarded an Emerging Artist 2015 grant from VSA-MN.
Romayne moved into the renovated "Former Male Dormitory" building on the grounds of the Fergus Falls State Hospital in June, of 2015. This move brings her back full circle since she last lived in Fergus Falls in the State Hospital Student Dormitory in 1983.
She recently had her first solo exhibition "From Numbers 2 Names" at the First West Central Patient Day Room of the Fergus Falls State Hospital.
View an online video of the exhibit:
KIRKBRIDE ART AND HISTORY WEEKEND
The underlying theme of my artwork is the exploration of historic State Mental Illness Asylums, Patients, and Cemeteries, and the archaic therapy treatments of Hydrotherapy, Electric Shock and Lobotomy. I am dedicated to engaging the public with my art by examining the history of mental illness stigma, and in turn, creating a more tolerant view on this subject that touches all of us in one way or another. Statistics indicate that 1 out of 4 individuals are diagnosed with mental illness at some point in their life.
The main subject of my work to date surrounds the Fergus Falls State Hospital, which evokes a strong sense of place for the thousands of people whose lives have been touched by its very existence during its 125 years of operation. Whether it is a former patient, a family member of a former patient, a nurse, a doctor, an administrator, a gardener, a janitor, a staff member, a counselor, or one of the hundreds of other employees that earned their living walking the halls and working at this pillar of Fergus Falls for 125 years, you would be hard pressed to find a person in Fergus Falls who isn’t somehow connected to the State Hospital in a very personal way.
Therefore, it is easy to comprehend how the State Hospital engenders true affection and deep commitment from its people, in many ways like a monarch and its subjects. This sense of allegiance in turn, serves as a magnet to bring visitors and new residents who want to enjoy the same sense of place. They will be equally fascinated by the stories of the patients who died while admitted to the Fergus Falls State Hospital and then were buried in unmarked graves, forgotten, abandoned and engulfed in a sea of sadness that could bring no peace to their fragile souls. The sheer magnitude of this number: 3,196 burials alone is intriguing, shocking, and devastating.