What a lovely, sad, amazing collection of images, all beautifully photographed by Jon Crispin on the Collector's Weekly website, of abandoned suitcases from patients at the Willard asylum. In Jon Crispin's own words:
"Initially, my idea was to pair the suitcase photographs with some indication of why these people were in Willard. As the project evolved, I found I wasn’t that interested in such a literal connection. The suitcases themselves tell me everything I want to know about these people. I don’t really care if they were psychotic; I care that this woman did beautiful needlework. I’m much more interested in the objects themselves and what people thought was important to have with them when they were sent away."
"One of the last cases I shot was from a guy named Frank who was in the military. His story was particularly sad. He was a black man, and I later found out he was gay. He was eating in a diner and felt that the waiter or waitress disrespected him, and he just went nuts. He completely melted down, smashed some plates, and got arrested. His objects were particularly touching because he had a lot of photo booth pictures of himself and his friends. Frank looks very dapper, and there are all these beautiful women from the ’30s and ’40s in his little photo booth pictures. That really affected me."
"Dmytre’s suitcase is another that I really like, it’s the last case I did. Dmytre was very moving. He was Ukrainian and clearly brilliant. He had notebooks filled with drawings of sine waves and mathematical things like that. There’s a wedding picture of Dmytre and his wife, and she’s holding a bouquet of fake flowers, which were also in the case.
"Some of the items were amusing, but some made your heart ache, and others made you go, holy shit, what is this about? I was constantly affected by the items, and that’s my goal with photographs."
What would I pack in my asylum suitcase? My first thought would be my laptop and my phone. But what if I couldn't take those? I would pack a ton of photos of Kiddos and Husband and Family, paper and drawing supplies (to keep my brain busy), knitting needles and yarn or string (to keep my hands busy), maybe a book or three (but narrowing it down to just three would be so painful), and of course toiletries.
What would you pack?
Thanks for reading,
p.s. Thanks to Laura Hardenbrook for posting a link to here which led me here.
Good juju-spreader, storyteller, graphic designer. I'd love to hear from you!