In the late afternoon of 28 October, 2011 I picked up Peter at Union and he and I were heading home for the weekend. Cristine was working in the Middle East, and the weather forecast was calling for a major storm. I was partway through the first suitcases Kickstarter campaign, and feeling unsure as to how it would all work out. We stopped at the first rest area on the MASS PIKE to get gas (and I think a packet of Hostess Cup Cakes). I looked at my phone and something like 80 emails that had just come in. I really thought there was a problem with my account and that the server was just resending old mail that I had already viewed. When I looked closely I realized that all the email had come from Kickstarter. They had just featured me as a “project we love”, and I immediately met my goal. That early winter storm rolled in big time and we were without electricity for the next 2 days. Wild./ Yesterday, I was shooting the suitcases in Rotterdam and was aware that the current Kickstarter appeal was ending in the evening. As I was driving east on the pike towards home, I stopped for gas at that same rest area, looked at my phone and saw this ($20,879 pledged with 341 backers, funding successful). It seemed just right that I discovered that both projects had gone over the top at the same location.
This is one of yesterday’s cases. It belonged to Joseph K.
Thank you all for your support and interest in the project. And a huge thanks to the folks at Kickstarter for running a great organization, and providing a venue that enables independent projects like this one to be successful.
Well, it seems we made it. Late this afternoon we went over the $20,000 goal, with 324 backers. There is still just under 24 hours to go and I am hoping a few more folks will come in to be a part of the community.
I couldn’t find a date on this scan of a bird’s-eye view of Willard, but I am guessing late 19th Century. The main building in the foreground is Chapin House, which sadly, is now gone.
And this photograph is from a Hallowe’en party in Hadley Hall (also where movies were shown). I assume it was taken sometime in the 1950′s. The band almost certainly are not patients, but the dancers and the folks sitting around the dance floor would mostly be. This room still exists, in fact it is where Karen Miller and I spoke at the Romulus Historical Society event this past summer.
Every time I write up a post here, or update the Kickstarter page, I find myself wanting to over-use the word ”amazing”. This whole project is that way for me. Amazing that I have access to the cases, amazing that the cases even exist, the amazing lives that are revealed by the contents of the cases, the amazing people that are working with me (thanks Peg, and everyone at the museum), and the amazing people that are supporting this work through Kickstarter and in so many other ways. There, I think I got it out of my system. But, you know, it is really something to be a part of all this. Cheers everyone, and thanks. I am back shooting the suitcases tomorrow, and hope to have an update in the evening when I get back.
It has seemed that for the past three weeks, my life has been consumed by the Kickstarter appeal. It has been a great, if not intense, experience. What I like most is that I am meeting such interesting people who are drawn to the project. Paul Mullins is a professor of anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, and he just posted a great piece on his wordpress site. Here is the link. I like how serious academics have taken to thinking and writing about the suitcases.
Last Wednesday I drove to Exeter, NH to photograph the poet Willie Perdomo for Poets & Writers Magazine. He is an amazing guy, and we had a tremendous dialogue about art, creativity, and life in general. The story will run in the May/June issue. I’ll post a link when it is online. He generously gave me a copy of his new book and I had fun reading it on the train back from New York on Saturday evening.
I was in the city for a memorial service for the husband of a good friend who I met through the suitcases project. I am reminded again and again how way beyond photography the cases are for me. The service was very moving, and as these events often do, it reinforced the idea that friendship, love and a simple appreciation of being alive and healthy are what it is all about. So thanks to all of you who are reaching out. The connections mean so much to me.
Ethel S came to Willard with some beautiful quilts, which I have reason to believe she had made herself.
She also had some interesting photographs, and her Bible was a very nice edition.
And for some reason she arrived with a complete set of cutlery.
I especially liked this spoon, which was most likely hers as a child.
I often find myself wondering what impact her faith had in how she coped with life at the asylum.
As you can see, Ethel was admitted on 3 July, 1930.
Three days to go on the Kickstarter appeal. Thank you all for your support. I have every confidence we will make it. I especially want to thank those of you who have increased your pledges. I am a bit overwhelmed by all this. You all must know that this is not so much about me and my life as a photographer, but about the people who lived at Willard, those who took care of them, and all of you who are a part of the project. Have a great week everybody.
Last February, Craig Williams and I were at Willard shooting the attic where the suitcases were “rediscovered. (Here’s a link to an earlier post) There aren’t many of these upright metal markers left.
After we were done, we walked across the road to the cemetery. It is always very moving to see the field where many of the Willard patients are buried in numbered graves. And interesting to note that starting in the late 1930s, and ending just before he died 1968, a patient named Lawrence M was the primary gravedigger. Amazing.
Thanks for all the tremendous response to my “appeal” post the other night. We are at $14,000 on the Kickstarter appeal, and I am feeling very positive.
The Kickstarter campaign ends next Wednesday. I want to thank all of you who have supported the project so far.
It is now time for me to put out a direct appeal to those of you who have thought about backing the project but have been waiting to decide if it was something you would care to do. I could really use your help.
The way Kickstarter works is that I set a goal, and if that goal is not reached, none of the funds will come through. I felt strongly that I did not want to undervalue the project, and that if I achieved my goal, I would be able to finish shooting all the cases. The money raised helps me cover my costs of travel, pays me for my time, and enables me to pay Peggy Ross for her invaluable help. The funds also allow me to make and distribute prints to show to potential venues for exhibits, and begin to reach out to organizations that might want me to talk about the suitcases to a wider audience. I can’t begin to tell you how weird it feels to me to directly ask for financial support, but I am convinced that this is the most important project I have worked on in my life as a photographer, and I think Kickstarter is a great venue for people to become involved in the creation of something so compelling. So, here’s the link. And thanks so much.
William H was admitted to Willard on 28 June, 1926.
I had fun today photographing models of boats at the Tilghman Waterman’s Museum, as well as a great collection of oyster cans that Mark Sadler brought in. I really liked the typeface on this can, and the utensil on top was designed to open the can and then spoon out the oysters.
It rained very hard in the afternoon (tornado warnings for a bit) and then it cleared. Around sunset, more clouds came in and the light was beautiful. This shot was taken just off Bar Neck Road. When the tide is high and the wind is coming from the south, the road is often underwater. It has been a very wet winter on the island. / Ham and oyster dinner at the church tomorrow night and then into DC to see Peter.
Whenever I photograph artists, I always like to get a few shots of the mixture of paints on their palettes.
Today as part of the Tilghman Waterman’s Museum work, Peter Carroll and I went to Chestertown, MD and videotaped and photographed the artist Marc Castelli. His main focus is working with, and learning about the lives of the watermen. He spends a few days a week out on the bay with them, then goes back to his studio and produces beautiful paintings of life on the water.
Tomorrow, I go back to shooting Tilghman artifacts, which is always fascinating.
My Kickstarter suitcases appeal had a good day today with 2 different $500 backers as well as some great other supporters . We are down to 12 days to go and I am really working hard to spread the word. Thanks to all of you followers of this blog who have helped out so far.
I drove to Tilghman today for several days of shooting for the Waterman’s Museum. The sun was setting just as I crossed the Knapps Narrows Bridge and I stopped to take a few shots. I love this little bridge tender’s building. It is purportedly the busiest drawbridge in the US. / Looking forward to hanging with the Tilgman folks and working with Peter Carroll; it is always fun and they are so welcoming to us. And I am REALLY looking forward to Saturday’s Oyster and Ham dinner at the church.
We have had quite a bit of snow in the past few weeks, and we are fortunate to be able to walk out our back door and head up into the woods to enjoy it. / About 10 years ago my brother and sister-in-law gave me these old school snowshoes for Christmas, and I really enjoy tromping around in them. They are surprisingly efficient and very easy to use.
Yesterday, Cris and I both were on snowshoes. Today she cross country skied while I stayed on the shoes. It was magical.