Jon Crispin's Notebook

Union Station, New Haven

Posted in Architecture, Cities, Sport, Transportation, Travel by joncrispin on 20/11/2013

Peter took the train up from DC yesterday and I drove to New Haven to meet him.  He arrived at about 3.30 and the light was beautiful.  /  England were playing Germany in a friendly and we found a great pub in the downtown called Christy’s and were able to watch the second half of the match (England 0- Germany 1).  Great place.

Elmira Prison / South Church

Posted in Architecture, Asylums, Buildings, Cities, Government, History, Newspapers, Willard Asylum by joncrispin on 18/11/2013

Craig Williams sent me a link to an article that ran in the Trumansburg, NY weekly paper, and I wanted to pass it along.  It is a very well thought out editorial on the potential closing of two Southern Tier psych centers (Willard is also mentioned).  Here is the link.  I thought of the above photo when the writer spoke about how the alternative to folks getting help in psych centers is to house them in prisons.  The above photo is from a project I did in the 1980s photographing early 20th Century New York State prisons.  This particular shot was taken in the Elmira Correctional Facility which would undoubtedly end up hosting some of the very people who would not be able to get treatment in the psych centers that are meant to close.  I accept that it is all very complicated, but some logical planning on the State’s part should be encouraged.

On a somewhat connected note, yesterday I photographed a very moving interfaith service at the South Church in Springfield called “Creating a Peace-Full City”.  There has been an awful spate of gun-related violence in Springfield this year, and many have come together to see if something positive could be done about it.  I had never been in this church before and it is stunning.

Willard Suitcases / November update

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 15/11/2013

It has been quite a while since I have posted a suitcases update.  There is a lot going on, and I finally have a bit of a breather.  I have been shooting at least one day a week in Rotterdam, and some weeks I have managed two full days.

 On Tuesday, Peter Carroll came out from Ithaca and we shot video for the upcoming Kickstarter 2 appeal.  It will be several weeks before it is even close to be up and running (pending Kickstarter approval), but I have been thinking a great deal about how to go about the whole thing.

 I have a natural aversion to asking for financial support for my independent projects, and it is a bit of a struggle for me to think about how to begin this process all over again.  After the shoot, I was talking to my son Peter, and he had some great words of encouragement, especially the idea that I would never be asking for a second round of support if the first one wasn’t so successful in getting folks interested in the suitcases.

 And what really keeps me going is that in doing this work, I have helped to create and incredible community of people who are invested in the completion of the project.

 Peg Ross and I have been so productive in the last two months.  We have a system set up that allows us to be super efficient.  In one two day period alone we managed to shoot almost 30 cases.  Most of these were partially to completely empty, but I have come to feel that it is just as important to document these suitcase as the ones that are full.

 These license plates are a good example.  Along with the paper tag, these were the only objects in Robert Y’s case.  Amazing.

 Stuert B’s case was filled with these bathroom products.  This is the second container of Dr. Lyon’s Tooth Powder we have come across.

 I love the Mennen logo on the top of the talcum container.  Beautiful.

 I have also been able to upload a few more suitcases to “The Cases” section of  Check it out if you get the chance and please stay in touch.  It means so much to me to get feedback.

Yale / The Cushing Center

Posted in Art, ephemera, Friends, History, Medicine, People, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 04/11/2013

I was at Yale today talking about the suitcases to Jessica Helfand’s freshman seminar class on visual biography.  She was one of the first people to connect with the project and has been a huge supporter from the get-go.  This is the third year I have spoken to the class and it always helpful to get feedback from the students on my work with the cases. / After the class I usually head over to the School of Medicine  Library and visit The Cushing Center.  It is one of the most amazing displays of someone’s life one can ever see.  I have posted about it here and here, and if any of you are in New Haven, it is absolutely not to be missed. / Thanks to Jessica and her students for a great day.

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