A class at the New York Academy of Art spent a week under the guidance of Joe Mullins, a forensic artist from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, sculpting facial reconstructions of 11 unidentified victims in New York, January 2015.
If you recognize any of the victims, please call 212-323-1201.
Identifying the unnamed
The class was the brainchild of Joe Mullins, center, who has created hundreds of skull reconstructions and thousands of age-progression images for long-missing children at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Mullins hopes the students will pursue forensic art professionally in order to aid in the identification process for the more than 10,000 unidentified remains cases in the U.S.
Art, and science
Students used their skills in sculpture and their knowledge of anatomy for the project, but they didn't use artistic license -- they aimed to create a likeness as close as possible to how the victim would have appeared in life.
Technology paves the way
Students worked with replicas of the skulls that were 3-D printed by the New York Medical Examiner's Office, allowing the office to maintain custody of the remains while the students could work on real cases.
Creating a likeness
Graduate student Stefania Panepinto re-created the face of a woman who was found dead along the side of a road in Shelby, New York in 1983.
The woman was later identified through DNA analysis.
Letting the skull speak
Students used averages to determine tissue depth in some portions of the facial re-construction, but they also let the skull itself direct their work for facial aspects like placement of the cheekbone and angle of the nose.
Sculpting a mystery
Graduate student Richard Comstock reconstructed the face of a man found shot to death in Queens in 2001.
Students had very little information about their victim besides basic demographic information like age, race and gender.
As faces started to emerge, students said they felt a strong connection to their victim and a responsibility to help them get their names back.
"I felt like I was resurrecting lost souls," one student said.
"Someone staring back"
"People ask me how I know when to stop -- I stop when I see someone staring back at me," Mullins said.
Above, Comstock's finished re-construction for the unidentified Queens man.