About this project
In 1995, when the Willard Psychiatric Center in Willard, NY was closed, staff members were surveying the contents of the buildings when they discovered an attic containing over 400 patient suitcases. The cases dated from between 1910 and the late 1960s, and were saved by Willard employees after the deaths of the patients. My photographs tell the story of these people through the objects they brought when they were admitted to Willard. They had lives that were complicated, varied, and in many cases, compelling, and I am honored to be able to restore their identities as more than just patients in a psychiatric facility.
When I began photographing the collection of Willard Asylum suitcases in March of 2011, my plan was to feature only the ones that contained the most materials. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter appeal, I was able to photograph 82 of the cases. I stopped shooting in September 2012 to produce prints for the "Changing Face of What is Normal" exhibit at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. After this initial phase, I realized that the collection was so unique and moving that I felt compelled to document all 429 cases. I know that there are lives yet to discover and stories still to tell. That is why I am coming back to Kickstarter to raise funds to complete the project.
You can see my photographs of the collection at willardsuitcases.com, and read regular updates on my wordpress site. Stories on my work with the suitcases have been published widely. Click here to see a selection.
The support I received from backers of my first Kickstarter appeal was one of the most satisfying aspects of this whole project. So please join me in this phase, and be a part of a community of people who, like me, are fascinated by the story of the Willard Suitcases. Thank you.
Risks and challenges
My goal is to finish shooting all 429 suitcases by the end of 2014. Based on my work so far, I believe this will be possible. There would be no risk to backers as rewards will be sent within the timeframe I have stated.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
On my willardsuitcases.com site is a tab at the top for FAQs. I have tried to answer the most common questions there, but if you would like any more information, just ask. Thanks, Jon
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