The Collectors Cabinet: No. 2

Jon CrispinWords by Billie Jenkins

 

Collection of the Week
Over the decades the strange and troubled people who came through the doors of Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane between 1910 and 1960. All were permitted to bring a small case of possessions they would like to hold onto during their visit. When the centre closed in 1995 an odd but wonderful discovery was made in the attics of the hollow halls – hundreds of suitcases belonging to inmates that had never been claimed. Many exist only as empty reminders of a past guest, yet many more open up to reveal the characters and histories of a diverse cross section of society. Sadly it is almost certainly the case that the majority were never opened after the initial packing, with the predominant feeling about psychiatric care in those times focusing on separating those deemed ill apart from their previous life and the pressures of normal society.

Currently held by the New York State museum, the suitcases have been documented through the photography of Jon Crispin which will soon show in San Francisco. As a collection they give an insight into the everyday life of someone in that era, and give important afterthought into the kinds of individuals who went thought the system. One particularly interesting case belongs to a man called Frank, who was part of the military. It poses the questions of how insanity was determined in those days, when the presence of war in everyones past meant PTS penetrated a large part of society. Another case of historical interest belonged to the husband of President Truman’s daunter Margaret. His notebooks reveal that he was arrested in D.C. for claiming to be President Truman’s daughters husband to unaware officers. The final thing that stays with you after the viewing these photographs is the stories that emerge from a few objects preserved in a box. You start to examine your own treasured possessions and ask ‘what would I take?’

Jon Crispin

Jon Crispin

Jon Crispin

Jon Crispin

Jon Crispin

Jon Crispin

Jon Crispin

Jon Crispin

Jon Crispin

A Little Stranger
Trey Speegle has one of the worlds biggest collection of painting by numbers paintings, which he uses to make artworks. He has over 2,500 of these ranging from the 1920’s until present day.

 

Related posts: