Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Joseph A / Peggy Ross

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 24/11/2014

I was back in Rotterdam at the storage facility shooting suitcases this past Friday.  The last time I was there, Peggy and I were only able to get part way through Joseph A’s possessions, and I was really eager to finish up.  I posted about that day here.  Most of what was in his two large trunks was clothing, and as I have said before, setting up this sort of shot is difficult for me.

Thank goodness for Peg.  I have mentioned before just how important she is to the project.  I probably would have never done the second Kickstarter without her, or for that matter, even thought about shooting all 400 of the suitcases.  Friday was a good case in point.  Every single article of clothing in Joseph’s collection had been assigned a catalogue number by the museum.  This meant taking the objects out of their archival boxes, keeping track of the small pieces of paper on which those numbers were written, hiding the numbers in the folds of the clothes so they weren’t visible in the photographs, setting up the shot, taking the photographs, rematching all the numbers with the articles, and finally putting them back into their designated storage boxes.  We worked for about four hours on this one trunk; had I been alone it would have taken days.

And in addition to all of this detail work, she helps to organize the shots, and sees things that I would otherwise miss.  When we were putting Joseph’s clothes away, she pointed out that his initials had been embroidered onto the collar of his pajamas, and it makes for a lovely picture.

So a huge thank you to Peg for her organizational skills, hard work, and dedication to the project.  I couldn’t do this without her.

Willard Suitcases / Joseph A. and a presentation in Auburn, NY

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 31/10/2014

I am back shooting suitcases after a bit of a break.  Peg has been traveling as have I, and it feels great to be working on the project again. / Joseph A. has a huge number of items in the collection.  There were about 15 museum boxes in one of the big storage containers.  It is always a bit intimidating with so many artifacts, especially when a large number of the items are clothing.  In Joseph’s case it was interesting because half of the clothes were women’s.  It wasn’t until we got deep into the setup that we found this card with the “Wife’s clothing” writing on it.  As with most of the information that we glean from the objects, we can only guess the circumstances of Joseph’s admission to Willard.  In this case though, it is very likely that his wife was deceased and he brought all her things with him.  (This included a ton of household items such as sheets, towels, napkins, etc.)  Very sad and touching.

I will be presenting the project at the Seward House Museum in Auburn, NY on (next) Wednesday the 5th of November.  The event is at the Auburn Public Theatre at 7.00 PM and there is a $10.00 admission fee ($5.00 for members).  I will also be talking about my NY State prison documentation project.  If you follow this blog, please come up and say hi.  It would be great to meet you.

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