Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases/Charles F/News

 

Willard Suitcases Project

 

Happy New Year everyone.  And as usual, thanks so much for following along.  I wish you all a happy and productive 2019.  For many of us 2018 turned out to be a difficult year, but let’s all be positive and look forward.

I first met Ilan Stavans in the late 90’s when the New York Times hired me to photograph him for this article.  He and I have kept in touch over the years.  I found myself thinking of him while I was photographing Charles F.’s possessions for the Willard Suitcase Project.  There seemed to be a connection and so I was able to help Ilan get access to the New York State Museum storage facility to have a look at what Charles brought with him to Willard.  Ilan was very moved by what he saw and felt, and on the drive home we spoke about a collaboration, although at the time we had no clear idea as to what would develop.

 

Willard Suitcases Project

 

Several months ago we started talking in earnest about what we could each bring to a project about Charles, and it is exciting to be able to say that we have signed a contract with SUNY Press to produce a book.  I’ll have more details soon, but we are both really excited about this.  We are looking at an early 2020 publication date, which will coincide with an exhibit that will travel.

 

Willard Suitcases Project

 

This is just one of many collaborative efforts that has come out of my work with the suitcases, and it is one aspect of the project that makes me especially happy.  It is so nice to have been an inspiration to creative and interesting people and to be a part of their art.

For those of you who are on instagram, I am starting to post suitcase photos @willardsuitcases on what I hope will be a regular basis.  You can also still see my goofy side @jonkcrispin.

Willard Suitcases / Charles F. / Update

Willard Suitcases Project

I’ve been busy with the Hope and Feathers exhibit and quite busy with my freelance work, but the suitcases project is never far from my mind.

Willard Suitcases Project

I am working on an interesting collaboration on Charles’ cases and hope to have some exciting news soon.

Willard Suitcases Project

He had an interesting collection of ties.

Willard Suitcases Project

There are quite a few Penny postcards in the collection as well as some interesting hand- written notes.  You can see the New York State Museum’s catalogue number (in pencil) on the upper right side of the white paper.

Thank you all for following this project.  I will be devoting a ton of time to the suitcases later this month as I continue to develop ideas for getting the photos out to a wide audience.  And Peter Carroll, Deb Hoard, and I are beginning to work hard on a preliminary short film which we can send to funders for the larger documentary that we plan to produce.

 

Willard Suitcases / George C / Charles F

Willard Suitcases

I am attempting to make a push to upload as many new cases as I can over the next few months.

George C’s case is really blue!  It was empty save for a label.  You can see the other photos at the willardsuitcases.com site.  I am uploading the cases chronologically, and this is the beginning of a run of empty cases.  I ran the second kickstarted appeal specifically to document the entire collection, and even the empty ones are important to me.  (By the way, thanks to Peggy Ross for convincing me how important it was to photograph every case. I wouldn’t and couldn’t have done it without her help and support.)

Charles F / 5 May, 1946

One case stands out in this sequence though, especially as it was anything but empty.  Charles F’s possessions were amazing.  It  will take me days to go through it all, but I hope to have it up by the end of next week.  Above is his certificate of naturalization.  On the left you can see the list of clothing that came with him to Willard.  More soon.

Thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / Charles F

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 04/10/2013

I have started shooting two days a week at the museum in an attempt to get through all 400 cases.  I have a long way to go.  Last week Peg was not able to help out and I was only able to get through 4 empty cases in a day..  She was with me this Wednesday and Thursday and we really wailed.  We were able to get through several empty cases and then started on Charles F’s collection; 2 small cases and a huge trunk with 4 archival boxes filled with his possessions.  He was such an interesting fellow and had saved very interesting items.  He was born in Russia in 1861, became a US citizen in 1896 and was admitted to Willard in 1946.  He died there and is buried in Ithaca.

Amazing.

I have slowly been uploading more cases to the gallery on willardsuitcases.com.  Check it out by clicking on “The Cases” in the tabs section at the top of the page.

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