The first time the photographer Jon Crispin came into contact with Willard Asylum for Mentally Ill was in 1980, when he was returning from a wedding and saw an abandoned building on the road to Seneka Lake in New York. The old style of the building, which apparently was the 19th century, was what most caught the attention of the photographer.
Since small, Crispin always wanted to go into abandoned buildings, and then he grew started photographing these spaces type. But his close contact with the Asylum just happened in the 90’s, when a man discovered about 400 bags forgotten in a place in the attic. They all belonged to patients who remained on asylum between the 20’s and 60’s. After being discovered, they’ve cataloged and exhibited at the New York State Museum.
After the exhibition, Crispin was invited to photograph each of the bags. For him, this was a job full of meanings. Contacting the personal effects of each patient, the photographer began to respect these people.
Besides being a personal record of patients, these bags also work as small capsules of time in a completely different century we live in today. Some bags were separated from patients when they were transferred to other institutions. Other luggage were simply abandoned by their families.
Here you can see some pictures taken by Crispin: