Making Faces

Feb 8, 2016
Larry Livaudais, LSU FACES Laboratory

When local authorities find a decomposed body they can’t identify, what do they do?

Well, they send it to the LSU FACES Laboratory.

“It goes through a processing stage where anthropologists try to identify the gender, the race, and the approximate age range," says Larry Livaudais, the Imaging Specialist and Facial Reconstructionist at the FACES Lab. "Then after that it comes to me and I try to put a face to it as best I can with the clay.”

Sculpture in Scrubs

Jan 12, 2015
Sculpture teacher Kim Bernadas works with a plastic surgery student on her clay bust.
Tegan Wendland

Sculpture class on a recent Wednesday night at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts looked a bit like an operating room. The bright white studio was filled with med students in green and blue scrubs.

Kara Walker was barely out of art school when she won a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, in 1997. Back then, her early work shocked audiences in part because her murals looked so charming from a distance. Black paper shadow portraits of colonial figures seemed to dance on white gallery walls; but lean in and you'd find your nose pressed up against images of slavery's horrors — mammies, masters, lynchings and sexual violence.