"Portrait of an Amateur Pathologist"

We don’t see them anymore, these … prodigies, who once gave rubes a glimpse of huckstered mystery in sideshow tents and halls:

Sealo, the Seal Boy, whose hands grew right out of his shoulders! Chang and Eng Bunker, the Siamese Twins, who married a pair of sisters and fathered 21 children between them! Francesco Lentini, the man with three legs! Not to mention Emmitt, the Alligator-Skinned Man; his bride, Percilla the Monkey-Girl; and Prince Nicholai, all 18 inches and 15 pounds of him …

James Mundie CGS’97 has a deep fascination with these anomalies—not just for who they were and what they represent but for the lavishly strange P.T. Barnum genre in which they displayed themselves. He has portrayed them with something like reverence, driven by a costumed imagination and meticulous craft. The result—this “Curious Collection of Anomalous Humans,” rendered in “Splendid Chiaroscuro”—is somewhere between the photographic portraits of Diane Arbus and a tarot deck by Edward Gorey. The effect is compelling—and unsettling. Yet there is a tenderness at work, too.

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2004 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 07/01/04

Freak Love
By Samuel Hughes

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"Ku-Ku of Ringling"