Dr. Eleanor McQuillen’s Crime Scene Painting A Hanging at Halloween
This was the first crime scene painting my mom made. It shows a very literal depiction of what she saw as she rolled up to the scene. As the pumpkins suggest, it was around Halloween. The victim lived in a house in rural New Hampshire but his yard, and the tree he hung himself from, were in Vermont, thus the crime scene was her purview. The body had hung unnoticed for so long that the neck had become elongated. I remember her saying “giraffe-like.” As an avowed hypochondriac I did not need that much detail. The black bird motif was appropriated from the folk art painting Acupuncture Pitchfork Style by John William “Uncle Jack” Dey.
Next’s weeks crime scene painting offers another straight-from-the-windshield view of a scene as my mom arrived to investigate Murder and Man’s Best Friend.
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.
Carefully consider if this is appropriate subject matter for your audience. While this image could inform some class discussions, a suicide can be an especially dark and emotional topic.