Forensic Friday #6: A Bad Day for a Goodfella?

Dr. Eleanor McQuillen’s Crime Scene Painting A Bad Day for a Goodfella?

I referenced this painting when I launched the Forensic Fridays series. I reintroduce it here so the series is understood in sequence. As mentioned previously, this is the only painting that my mom included herself. She is in the lower left-hand corner photographing the scene. The victim lying at the base of the wall had been killed elsewhere and dumped in the quarry. There was some suggestion early on that this may have had “mob involvement”. Police are shown preparing to retrieve the body. While she rendered details about her trench coat and hairstyle accurately, I am confident her fear of heights would never have allowed her to stand so close to the quarry’s edge. (She clung to my father and edged across the center-most line when a family vacation had us walk across the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls. I can still hear her howling, “Oh mother of Mary, don’t run so close to the edge.” If a bridge ever called for small children to pinball back and forth to peer over the edge, its that one. Plus, it serves her right for not letting me go to the wax museum.) Note that for the first time, she melds the painting and the frame. In this instance she picks up the colors from the landscape and creates a marble-like pattern.

A Bad Day for a Goodfella .5

As was established in the previous painting, my mom oftentimes inserted crime scenes in other artist’s landscapes. While I found a folder of quarry photographs that could have influenced this composition, the expansive, stylized view of the landscape makes me think there is a “collaboration” going on here as well, but I could not find anyone to attribute this to. If anyone runs across an eerily similar scene minus the dead guy, let me know so credit can be given.

Next week’s crime scene painting shifts us away from the sinister to an unfortunate accident in the midst of glee in Dying in a Winter Wonderland.

Teaching Opportunity

Adopt a detective’s perspective when looking at this painting and use three simple questions to frame a class discussion.

  • What is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can we find?

Decide if and when to share the title of the painting as it may guide, or overly influence, the way students view the work. You will also need to decide if it is beneficial to share the back story that this is a crime scene painting and is painted by one of the crime scene investigators for her child as a way to share life’s thoughts and lessons.

This painting offers a chance to discuss the role of the frame in a painting. Is it simply a protective device or should it accentuate the art?

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