I was back in Rotterdam last week to photograph more suitcases from Willard Asylum. Check this out for the background of the project.
I am slowly beginning to formulate a plan for how to proceed.
Even though an inventory of each case has been prepared by the museum, I prefer not to know the contents before I begin taking pictures.
There is something about being surprised by what’s inside that helps me connect with the person.
And I want the connection because I am trying to say something about the lives they lived before arriving at the asylum.
Anna’s first case contained mostly clothes.
I believe the inventory was done just as she arrived at Willard.
The museum is very careful about caring for each individual item.
Anna had some really beautiful clothes.
Just about all of her clothes had nametags, which I have to assume were sewn in before her time at Willard.
Below is the second of her cases.
This one had fewer clothes and more personal items.
For some reason, I really like the paper that the museum uses to protect the cases and their contents.
I especially like the design of this one.
When I photographed the abandoned buildings on the earlier project, I tried never to move items that I came across. This is so different for me as I need to lay the items out in order to photograph, but I don’t want to make the arrangements look too studied. I actually work very fast when I am shooting.
This case contained several hats, and an incredible pair of shoes.
There were also some indications of her life before Willard.
The hair pin packaging is beautiful.
I am not sure if the residents of Willard had access to their possessions during the time they were living there, but somehow I think not. So this letter would probably have been received before she arrived.
And since it was not addressed to Anna, I wonder about its importance to her.
Thanks so much to Craig Williams at the New York State Museum for allowing me access. As I mentioned in the earlier post, I would really appreciate any feedback. I still don’t have an outlet for this work, and no funds to jump into it in any concerted manner, but I hope to keep chipping away. There is alot of information about the people attached to these suitcases and should I go much further with the project, I would like to be able to include some biographical background to accompany the photos.
I think Pieper was the first person I knew that wore Walk-Over Bucks. They were part of the uniform of a small group of us in Ithaca in the 70′s. Bucks, blue jeans, oxford shirt, and sometimes a tie if you were working or otherwise trying to fit in with people who cared about those things. I must have owned at least five pairs over the years. I have a basic wardrobe rule of thumb that you can wear pretty much anything below the belt as long as you have on a clean oxford shirt and a tie, hence the blue jean/bucks combo. This particular pair was the last I was able to find. I bought them in the early 90′s at Mathew’s Shoes (long since out of business) in downtown Amherst, and I think that Walk-Over had already ceased to be by that time. I wasn’t able to find another pair anywhere and assumed that the company was done for. / In yesterday’s Times I saw an article about how this type of shoe is making a comeback and was shocked to see a pair of Walk-Overs in a photograph. Someone has resurrected the brand and they are making them again. They are now $225.00 but still probably worth the money. I break this pair out once in a while and I think it is time to take them to the local cobbler to be resoled.