Jon Crispin's Notebook

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.

Willard Suitcase #7

Posted in History, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 31/10/2011

Not all of the suitcases have much in them.  Craig suggested that I make selections from the master list, but somehow I like the surprise of not knowing what they contain.  I did make some suggestions this time, but was still surprised by what I found.

I am still drawn to the archival paper and string that is used to preserve the cases.  There is something so beautiful about how the bows are tied.

This case belonged to Raymond H.  You can see the bird droppings from when it was stored in the attic before they were saved by the museum.

I don’t always find items that tell much of a story, but something about this one caught my fancy.

It took me a few minutes to figure out what these papers were.

Rolling papers!  I hadn’t noticed the orange wrapper when I took them out of the envelope.

May 4, 1923, such a long time ago. /  Many thanks to Peggy Ross who helped me rewrap the cases and pointed out a few things that  I had missed.  And as usual to Craig for all his help.

Monday morning 6.15

Posted in Family, Travel, Weather by joncrispin on 31/10/2011

A very interesting weekend here.  Lost power here at 10 Saturday night.  Cell phone towers were down too, so no email or internet.  Drove Peter back to Union on Sunday afternoon, and finally got a signal at one of the Berkshire rest areas on the Pike.  Amazingly, skyped Cris in Gaza from my phone and she assured me she was ok, in spite of the recent hostilities.  Then saw all the email from Kickstarter backers and am just totally blown away.  So many people to respond to and thank and it will take a while.  Got back to a very dark house last night, stoked up the wood stove and lit some candles.  Power came back on just after 6.00 this morning. / Thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement; I’ll be posting an update on Kickstarter in a bit.

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Willard Suitcase #3

Posted in History, People, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 04/10/2011

I was in Albany last Monday to shoot some more of the Willard suitcases.  It was the day Peter Carroll was filming me for the Kickstarter video, so it was a bit different of an experience.  I was comfortable when Peter was shooting me work, but as soon as he started interviewing me, I lost the plot.  Sometimes it is hard to put into words what I am feeling about this project.  The photos seem to speak for themselves and I have always expressed myself best through pictures and not words.  Anyway, if you have seen the video here, you will understand what an amazing editor he is.  He took my jumbled thoughts and made sense of them.   Kickstarter emphasizes how important a short video is to getting funded, and I think it has really made a difference.

So here is Fred Butters’ case.  It is a beautiful design, and I especially love how the leather helps to define it.  The handle is also in really nice shape.

There wasn’t a lot in it when it was opened, but what was there was really interesting.

It is so touching to see what he brought with him to Willard.

I especially like the metal container of talc and the design of the Polident can.

The blank postcards say alot too.  One element of this project I need to have answered is whether or not the owners had access to the suitcases while they were at Willard.  If they didn’t, what would explain the envelope with the stamp on it that wasn’t ever mailed?  I’ll ask Craig; he will know.

The toothbrush container is glass.

Here is the talc container, and below a letter.  I really need to find out if he brought it with him or received it while living at Willard.

So, the project is now posted at Kickstarter.  I am really hoping I reach my goal so I can continue to do this work.  If you know anyone who might be interested, please feel free to forward it along.  Thanks to everyone who has already donated, and to all who have looked at the photos.

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