Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcase #16 and News

Posted in Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 08/06/2012

This is not a suitcase per se, but Henry L.’s possessions were in this cardboard box.  As I continue this project, I occasionally come across different ways the museum has preserved the items.  This box was not wrapped like the others, but was in an archival box of its own.

I was particularly moved by this box.

Sometimes I don’t know what to write about these remnants of someone’s life.

As usual, I have obscured his surname here.

The quality of the his artificial foot and leg was amazing.  I am not sure when it was made as there was no date of Henry’s admission on the tag attached to the shoe.

The parts on the brace above were machined beautifully.

Thanks to you all for following the project.  And now for some really great news.  I have signed a contract with the Exploratorium in San Francisco to have a large number of the suitcase photos in an exhibit to be called “The Changing Face of What is Normal”.  One third of the exhibit will deal with mental health issues and my work will be a part of that component.  I am so excited and proud to be involved in this.  There will be a formal opening on 19 April, 2013 in their new space at Pier 15 in the Embarcadero and it looks like I will be doing an artist’s talk a few days after that.  My friend, the poet Karen Miller will also be involved.  She has been working with many of the same cases and her poems are amazing and evocative.  So I will look forward to seeing some of you next April in San Francisco.  Again thanks for all the feedback and support.

19 Responses

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  1. mimi said, on 08/06/2012 at 11:01 am

    congrats! I am really enjoying the photos of the suitcases and boxes.

  2. Margaret said, on 08/06/2012 at 11:10 am

    This one breaks my heart, Jon. The prosthetic leg and the one shoe with heavier wear…”what happened to your leg, Henry? Did whatever happened to you break your spirit as well?” This man’s story squeezes my heart.

  3. daisyj said, on 08/06/2012 at 11:15 am

    So glad you’ll be coming to SF! Please keep us updated about the exhibit.

  4. ekroczek said, on 08/06/2012 at 11:45 am

    This one is amazing and deeply moving. Congrats on the exhibit deal!

  5. Carole said, on 08/06/2012 at 1:00 pm

    Hearty congratulations to you Jon! Your sensitive photographs of the suitcases and box evoke varying emotional reactions from the viewers. It would be interesting to watch the people’s faces as they view your work!
    I would love to fly down to SF to see this show. Do you know what date you’ll be giving your talk?
    Carole

  6. leamuse said, on 08/06/2012 at 1:05 pm

    If I were still living in Sacramento, I would love to see the exhibit! However, it is a bit far from the south of France so will have to send my friends and settle for their stories.

  7. sorbetsurprise said, on 08/06/2012 at 2:07 pm

    That is great news! More people need to see these photographs

  8. Photobooth Journal said, on 08/06/2012 at 5:47 pm

    How exciting for you and for Karen Miller. Looking forward to seeing documents from the exhibition on your wonderful blog, which I always look forward to receiving in my inbox. Best wishes, Katherine

  9. Desiree said, on 08/06/2012 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing the contents of this box, is that all he had? Wow, compared to some of the women’s suitcases, this guy owned very little but clearly these were his most precious possessions. Obviously. A very touching legacy. Congratulations on your inclusion in the the exhibition, I would travel far and wide to see it!

    • joncrispin said, on 08/06/2012 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks Desiree. This appears to be all that remains of his life. Thanks for your support. Jon

  10. Barbara S. said, on 08/06/2012 at 7:35 pm

    What a story in this carton! It causes one to wonder about the individual they belonged to..how did it happen? How old was he? How did it affect him mentally? How did he cope on a daily basis. So many things to wonder about! Once again, I am intrigued by your findings. Were there any other suitcases with his name? I was curious about the numbering. Are there records that show more information about the people that lived at the institute still in existence? Congratulations! How exciting for you and for everyone that is able to attend the opening! Thanks for posting!

    • joncrispin said, on 08/06/2012 at 8:41 pm

      Barbara, there were no other cases with his name. There are records about all of the patients, but with HIIPA laws, they are unaccessible to most of us. I do know some facts about these people’s lives, but sadly can’t pass them along. It is such an amazing archive and I am so lucky to have access. Best and thanks for your interest. Jon

  11. Debbie said, on 09/06/2012 at 12:47 pm

    Congratulations on getting these images included in the exhibition. It is a fascinating project, every new entry leaves me wondering about these people and their lives
    I’m sure it could be a travelling exhibition, perhaps you could bring it to one of the UK photographic galleries or festivals (preferably one near me! eg Ffotogallery in Cardiff or the RWA in Bristol)

    • joncrispin said, on 11/06/2012 at 9:31 am

      Debbie, I am working on a possible UK site. Thanks for the suggestions about the galleries. Once I am done shooting the cases, I’ll start working on venues. Cheers, Jon

  12. N. Kroupa said, on 11/06/2012 at 8:58 pm

    I hav
    e loved seeing these suitcases. Looking forward to seeing you in my hometown!

  13. Luke K. said, on 06/03/2013 at 9:39 am

    Regarding the date of Henry’s admission, I would guesstimate not much later than 1915-20 from the style of the shoes and probably earlier.

    Thank you so much for your work photographing all the cases, It is a mammoth undertaking. I’m especially interested on a professional level as an archivist to see how the museum is handling the preservation of this mixed media collection.

    • joncrispin said, on 06/03/2013 at 9:48 am

      Luke, thanks for your interest. I give high marks to Craig Williams at the New York State Museum for how they handled the cases. Every item was examined, catalogued, and individually wrapped. Talk about a mammoth undertaking! Three very special women did most of the work. Sarah Yastremsky,Christine Allen, and Kara Chambers. Best and thanks for your interest. Jon

  14. [...] Willard Suitcase #12, Willard Suitcase #13, Willard Suitcase #14, Willard Suitcase #15, Willard Suitcase #16, Willard Suitcase #17, Willard Suitcase #18, Willard [...]

  15. cindy said, on 11/06/2013 at 6:11 pm

    I would love to see the whole exibit in Dallas/FT Worth.


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