One of my goals in the early part of this year is to work very hard at uploading the cases to willardsuitcases.com. Today I edited Thomas Y’s case. Here is a shot of one of the locks. Sometimes I find myself just opening and closing them over and over; the sound can be very evocative.
When I started this project, I truly had no idea of the way that it could touch people. On a daily basis I get email and comments from folks who stumble across the photos online. I save them all, and sometimes I am awed by how the work is perceived by people whose lives have been touched by mental illness. Today, a comment was posted by Daphne and since it was put up publicly, I hope that she won’t mind if I quote her here.
“I just saw this. oh my, I am so humbled for those who you make alive and human again. They were just like us in many ways. To be shrunk into ONE suitcase…is beyond me. I have a lifetime of mental illness in my family, and I have to say, they are just like us…all in all…as you show. Thank you.”
No, Daphne…..thank you.
I’m in DC for the weekend before heading out to Tilghman for a few days. Last night Peter and I went over to U Street for some eats. I couldn’t be this close to Ben’s without stopping in for a Half Smoke. It was amazing.
Afterwards, he wanted to take me to Codmother for fish and chips. What a place. Great fish though.
As I was driving down of Friday and listening to BBC Radio 4, I heard this commentary by A.L. Kennedy and found it interesting. You can either read it here, or better yet listen to the podcast here. I found it very touching.
When we are on our walks in the woods, Olive is in the habit of picking up a stick and dragging it back to the house. She dug this one out of the snow the other day. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t manage it, but to my amazement she succeeded. Without any exaggeration, I would have to say it was at least 12 feet long and quite heavy.
One of my suitcase backers from Australia, Chelle Destefano, has just put up a kickstarter appeal, and it looks interesting. I would encourage any of you who are interested in abandoned spaces to check it out here.
This photograph is from the last shoot of 2014. LaVerne’s case held an amazing collection of postcards from Europe and some very interesting personal photographs. / Due to scheduling issues, Peg and I and won’t be able to get back to the project until later this month, but we are on the home stretch with the suitcases. I would estimate that we have photographed at least 350 of the roughly 400 cases and it feels great. The next phase (along with continuing to edit and upload to the site) will be to start talking to publishers and galleries.
Some very good news about coverage of the work. In mid December I started to see an up tic in traffic on the web, and I have been receiving lots of interest and great feedback. Just this morning abcnews.com ran a selection of the images. It is featured quite high on their main page and here is the direct link. Thanks so much to Kate at ABC News for her interest.
And a very interesting site in Brazil just ran a long article on the project. The InstitutoMoreiraSalles (IMS) runs an online magazine called ZUM and they did a great job putting the piece together. Here is the link. If any of you read Portuguese, let me know how it sounds.
This is the kind of thing that drives Cris a bit crazy. She finally insisted that I photograph this thing today and that I get it off the counter. Otherwise I would have let it go for a few more days. / She has been a vegetarian since college (her first BA at UC Chico) and has always said the one thing she missed was bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. This past summer I spent a great weekend with my college pal Seth Tibbott and bunch of my other Wittenberg friends. Seth was always a bit of a wild man and after he graduated he moved to the Northwest and started Turtle Island Foods, makers of the famous Tofurky. He still runs the company and when we were together he gave me some coupons. They make a tempeh product that resembles bacon and I picked up some to see how it was. Well, it is great, and Cris is thrilled to be able to have tempeh, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. So when I make them, there is usually some left-over tomato. I left this one on the counter overnight and by the next morning it started growing hair!
Well, hair like things with tiny black balls on the ends. I am quite good in keeping a tidy kitchen, but once in a while I do leave things out. I have seen a lot in my cooking life, but never anything like this. It certainly isn’t mold, but what in the wide wide world of sports is it?
I was walking on the beach today at low tide and saw this piece of plant that had washed up sometime earlier in the day. A pretty perfect “S”, and I thought that it could be the start of a collection of naturally occurring letters. A few minutes later, I saw this “C”.
Well, I thought, another one for the collection. And then, this “J”.
I ended up walking about 5 miles on the beach, looking for letters.
This “U” is nice with the leaves still attached; sort of like the “S”.
I’m calling this one ↑ an “I”
Nice to have found an “L”. So useful at times.
It might be stretching it a bit to call the one above a “G”, but hey, it works for me.
No question though, this is a lovely “F”
This one came pretty close to being a “Q”, but an “O” is much more useful (although we did have a “U” to go with the “Q”).
This is just barely a “W”, and it even has a little flower attached.
And finally, this somewhat stylized “T”.
I am a pretty lame Scrabble player, but I try to do the Times crossword everyday. As I was walking back from the beach I thought it might be nice to see how many words could be made from these letters. S C J U I L G F O W T. It is a good mix of vowels and consonants. If you want to join in, post your words in the comments section.
I am wishing all of you a fantastic, productive, and peaceful 2015. Cheers, Jon
Due to the wonderful generosity of my brother and sister-in-law, we are back at the beach in South Carolina. This is Olive’s first visit to the ocean.
She took to it like a champ. Full blast, right into the water and ran like the wind. Here she is during her first encounter with a horseshoe crab. Initially she was cautious, but after a minute she just barked at it until we lured her away with biscuits. She is really becoming a great dog.
A few days ago I started getting a great deal of email from people who had seen the project somewhere online. I am not really sure of the source, but am always pleased to hear from folks. I think I tracked down the article, but it did have some really glaring errors, and attributed some things to me that I never would have said. I hesitate to post a link, as it is one of those conglomeration sites with some tacky ads and links.
But the good part is that I am hearing from some wonderful people who are sharing their stories with me. I really appreciate it, and am grateful that the project is reaching new viewers.
As you can tell from the title of this post, I am clueless about the names of plants that we have.
And our method for taking care of them is quite simple; inside in the winter with not too much watering, outside in the summer to let nature take its course.
At the end of last winter this plant was showing no signs of life. We put it outside anyway and it came back with a vengeance. It is now flowering like a champ.
After my fantastic visit to Wittenberg University I drove up to Kalamazoo, Michigan to visit my great friend Ken Schaefer. We were taking a tour of Western Michigan University, where he works, and I looked to the south and saw this. Amazing. The State Hospital has an interesting history, and dates back to the earliest of New York State’s asylums. The only building that remains from the original Kirkbride plan buildings is the water tower, and it is huge.
Driving back home tomorrow. It is about 14 hours and I might break it up back in Erie. We’ll see.