Jon Crispin's Notebook

Design Observer / Jessica Helfand

 

design observer

Very shortly after the first Willard Suitcases kickstarter went up I received an email from Jessica Helfand expressing her interest in the project.  She soon invited me down to New Haven to speak to her Yale freshman seminar class, “Studies in Visual Biography”.  Here is a post I did just after that first visit.  I have subsequently been to her class on several other occasions and it is always very stimulating and fun.

As well as teaching at Yale, Jessica and her late husband Bill Drenttel created Design Observer, which is a fantastic website devoted to creativity and design.  That description doesn’t do it justice though, as it is so much more than that.  It is really worth checking out on a regular basis.  In addition to the site, Design Observer recently started publishing a quarterly magazine.  The second issue is just out, and they included a huge spread on the suitcases.  I am just so honored to be a part of the issue, and it looks great.  Here is a link to purchase it, and I would really recommend all of you interested in the project to do so.  It includes many suitcase photographs that haven’t been published before.  Special thanks go to  Eugenia Bell, who did a great job selecting the images, and making sure it all came together.  She was a joy to work with.

As we were saying goodbye after that first class at Yale, Jessica reached out, hugged me and said “We’re friends now!”  It was a most touching gesture and I have rarely felt so quickly welcomed into someone’s life.  She has been a massive supporter of the project who has helped me in so many ways, and I am very fortunate to be her friend.

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.

Dr.Harvey Cushing / Yale

Posted in Health, History, People by joncrispin on 10/01/2013

I was at Yale in November speaking to Jessica Helfand’s class about the suitcase project.  I had done it last year and it was a great experience again this time.  At lunch Jessica introduced me to Joanna Radin who teaches in the Med School and she mentioned that some of Dr. Harvey Cushing’s artifacts were in a small office in the library and offered to take me to see them.  Last year I visited the Cushing Center to see the brain collection and I was excited to learn more about him.

Cushing was an incredible diarist and photographer.  His entire life is documented to a degree that is almost incomprehensible.  The above volumes contain his World War 1 journals and correspondence.

The correspondence during this period gives a fascinating view into the minutia of a wartime surgeon.  Volume after volume of military records.  This guy saved everything!

I only had a short amount of time and could have spent weeks photographing the collection.  I wonder who the “Southern gentleman” referred to was.  Clearly someone who wasn’t much liked by his peers.

A big thank you to the folks at the School of Medicine Library for giving me access to these materials.  They have a great website set up where it is possible to view some of the collections that have been digitized.  Check it out.

Cushing Center

Posted in Architecture, Art, Medicine, Science by joncrispin on 28/11/2011

The suitcases project has opened a lot of doors for me.  Jessica Helfand teaches a freshman seminar at Yale called “Studies in Visual Biography”.  She is interested in (among other things) how ephemeral objects can tell a lot about the individual who owned them.  Very early on she noticed my Kickstarter page and invited me to come down to New Haven to talk to the class.  I went today and it was a blast.  Afterwards Jessica took me to the Cushing Center at the Yale School of Medicine where neurologist  Dr Harvey Cushing’s collection of brains resides.  There is an amazing story about how the center came about, and the representation of his work and life are housed in a beautifully designed space.  It is all very scientific, and not at all macabre.  Well worth a visit.

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