Mixed Media Artist

Mug Shots

This a 4″x6″ mixed media painting on paper covered canvas. The sides are red and are.75″ deep. Available HERE

I stumbled across this website documenting mug shots of unknown people of New Orleans during the early 20th century and I was intrigued. The faces that looked out at me were haunting. Ghosts form the past saying
‘Hey, I was here before you. Look at me’.
It was really moving and I wondered who these people were. I always think these thoughts when I look at old photos but these really struck me because they were not taken of these people in their finest hour. You can see that in their eyes. It is like they are saying
‘See me, remember me, but not like this, not now, not here, not for this. Remember me for who I really am but do remember me.

So I painted one. She is nameless and her offense is unrecorded. Most likely petty. Reasons for arrest were often vague even if they were written down. ‘Immoral purposes’, ‘huckstering’, ‘flim-flam’ even.

Perhaps my way of honoring her. I am not sure yet. I am torn about leaving the number painting on the left hand corner. For some reason I feel that this is disrespectful to her, something that she would rather forget.

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7 responses

  1. Sarah Bowie

    Wonderful project, Maria. I understand your not wanting to brand the portraits with the arrest number, but without it they are just unflattering portraits with no context… The pale treatment you used is a good approach, but I wonder if you could do something else – like make a bolder but decorative design out of the numbers – or maybe paint a little picture-in-the-picture in the location of the numbers, of what you imagine the crime to be…?

    September 9, 2010 at 8:26 pm

  2. You’re thoughtfulness into her humanity is what makes her memorable. Even though the origins are less than noble, she is remembered now with dignity renewed! Interestingly, Karin Jurick is doing a series of “current” mugshots and it is wonderful. Although yours is also a mugshot, the age and location makes this unique and all yours! PLEASE, expand this and make it a series too. You have really got something here and I hope you continue with your own special style! BTW, her number in no way identifies her but is essential to the subject. Job well done! More, More…
    Beckie

    September 10, 2010 at 7:51 am

  3. Intriguing approach. Her eyes do look haunted. You can’t help wondering what’s going on in her head…
    Nice work!!

    September 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm

  4. I like this one Maria. Often in my collages I have used old photos of people I think of as “adopted ancestors”. And yes, questions always play in my mind about who these people were .. how they lived .. how they died. With some, their stories are almost written on their faces.
    ~ Dawn

    September 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm

  5. Thanks everyone. I have decided to go with the number as is. I am not sure if I will do more of these. They are taxing and sad to me. Yes, how they died is a question that I ask and I really hate dwelling on that too much. It depresses me. I am a bit of a romantic and these have little romance… we’ll see maybe I will do more … not sure… going to ponder it for awhile.

    September 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

  6. who said that this run in with the law did not put them on the right path

    September 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm

  7. I have to agree with the intellect that posted last. No wonder you are so darn clever and reflective. It looks like you come by it honestly. This moment was only a moment. Perhaps one of salvation. Grace. Redemption. Or maybe the arrest was made because this woman was stealing food to feed her family, or aiding the flight of a prostitute. There is so much more to her story. And you have honoured this in your gentle interpretation.

    September 13, 2010 at 1:35 am

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