Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Thomas Y

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 30/01/2015

One of my goals in the early part of this year is to work very hard at uploading the cases to  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.

3 Responses

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  1. Maureen Mckovich said, on 30/01/2015 at 6:00 pm

    Jon, have you considered a narrative using the comments along with the photographs in book form? Perhaps the comments could be first name, last initial only, just as you are required to do with the photos. . .

  2. William Facer said, on 31/01/2015 at 6:56 pm

    I do not see these images as a commentary of mental illness. I see these as a sad commentary on these long forgotten people’s lives. I believe there were fewer mentally ill people and more people of inconvenience back in those times. When one realizes how little it took to commit someone back then, it is a true heart breaker. I truly know about mental illness, I was subjected to an extremely mentally ill mother diagnosed with schizophrenia compounded with manic depression. She died when I was 16 but her existence has had a profound negative effect on who I became. Either way, I stumbled on your work quite a while ago and have been fascinated with the quality, composition, etc. Thanks for all you do. Love it

  3. Hank. said, on 02/02/2015 at 6:06 pm

    Jon, I really like the layout of the site–being able to view the documentation progression of each case is neat. The care taken in the original archival process and your subsequent care in photo documentation is just striking. Great work, as ever!

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