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Corinne May Botz, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death


October 14—November 13, 2004

In "The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death" photographer Corinne May Botz explores a collection of eighteen crime scene models that were built in the 1940's and 50's by a progressive criminologist Frances Glessner Lee (1878 – 1962). The crime scene models, which were based on actual homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, were created to train detectives to assess visual evidence. Like a forensic detective herself, Botz meticulously re-traces Lee’s footsteps with her camera and lights. Her large-scale color photographs shrewdly frame the idiosyncratic and haunting details from these captivating murder scene dollhouses. Such noir fiction shuttles between the detective photography of Weegee and the dollhouse narrative photography by Laurie Simmons to explore the dark side of domestic life.

Botz’s lasting fascination with the Nutshell Studies and the biography of Frances Glessner Lee began when she was an undergraduate at Maryland Institute, College of Art. After pursuing research for years, Botz will present 25 photographs— the first extensive exhibition of this ambitious project. "Unexplained Death" is organized in conjunction with the release of Botz’s book on the same subject. Published by The Monacelli Press, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death includes 130 color photographs and uncovers the life-story of Frances Glessner Lee.

Corinne May Botz has exhibited her photography internationally. Her photographs have been published in Life, Metropolis, 2wice, Popular Science, and elsewhere. Botz currently is pursuing an MFA at Bard College’s Milton Avery School of the Arts.