Without knowing anything about the name or purpose of the new exhibit in the Kinetic Gallery, Paul Dodd's collection might at first look simply like a study in portraiture. With the sketchy, unfinished quality of the series, the paintings could be mistaken as an art student's homework.
While it would seem unlikely for Paul Dodd to deny that he is indeed still a student of art, it may not quite be in the traditional sense. With a closer look at the paintings and the purpose of the artist, the exhibit proves to be quite another thing altogether.
Paul Dodd's exhibit, "Crime Faces," opened Tuesday, August 28 and will run until September 28 in the Kinetic Gallery in the College Union. Its content is exactly what the title implies-an exhibition on the faces of crime.
Paul Dodd once worked as a graphic artist in the Crime Analysis Unit of the Rochester Police Department, creating flyers with mug shots to match up criminals with their crimes in the city.
According to his artist statement, Dodd became "infatuated with the range of expressions-the nonverbal communication of emotions-and the reactions that we have in looking at these point blank head shots." Dodd's words sum up what the exhibit essentially is: a series of mug shots, only painted instead of photographed.
What makes these mug shots so interesting is the way he chose to recreate the real faces he took from newspapers with his paintbrush. His renderings of each face are less than realistic-sometimes choosing to paint only parts of the faces or only filling in sections with color, while leaving others even more impressionistic and sketch-like. However, although they are not the stark photographs often seen in Most Wanted ads, each face feels as vivid and mysterious as a real person's.
Especially forceful in the pieces is the expressiveness of each face. Although the features of each face are generally in the same set, stoic expression, volumes are spoken through Dodd's artful depiction of their eyes. The powerful expressions of the eyes remind us that we are looking at real people, real criminals with real emotions.
Dodd credits his teacher, Fritz Lipp, at the Creative Workshop of the Memorial Art Galley with guiding him through this project and has studied painting with him for several years.
With the striking exhibit's expressive imagery, bright colors and emotional appeal, Dodd has certainly created a completely new way to look at the faces of crime.