“Parsonage Parlor (doll)” from the series The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, 2004
C-print, 50" x 40"
"The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death" is an exploration of a collection of eighteen miniature crime scene models that were built in the 1940's and 50's by a progressive criminologist Frances Glessner Lee (1878 – 1962). The models, which were based on actual homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, were created to train detectives to assess visual evidence.
In addition to creating over 100 photographs of the models, I spent years researching and writing about Frances Glessner Lee. I considered Lee my collaborator, and as a woman artist, it was important for me to unearth her story and make it known. My writing explores how Lee’s experience of domestic space informed her creations. The models undermine the notion of the home as a safe haven and reveal it to be a far more complex sphere. All of the models depict lower middle class interiors, and the majority of victims are women who suffered violent deaths in the home.