Taylor, Karen T

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Taylor, Karen T.

1952
AMERICAN
FORENSIC ARTIST

During the last two decades of the twentieth century, Karen T. Taylor worked as a forensic artist for at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). In that position, she reconstructed facial features of the dead and drew composite sketches of criminals. As one of only thirty certified professional forensic artists at that time, Taylor became internationally renowned for her facial reconstruction skills. Her work helped capture numerous criminals within the United States.

Taylor, born and raised in Texas, developed an early aptitude for sketching faces. She attended the University of Texas's School of Fine Arts and the Chelsea School of Fine Art in London. While in England, she worked as a portrait sculptor for Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. Returning to Texas, Taylor found a job as an illustrator for the DPS; when detectives discovered her talent for drawing realistic facial sketches, she transitioned into the role of full-time forensic artist.

While working for the DPS, Taylor developed successful interviewing skills and produced incredibly accurate and detailed sketches. These sketches led to the arrests of many suspects accused of rape and murder . In order to develop her facial reconstruction skills, Taylor studied the techniques of Betty Pat Gatliff, an Oklahoma forensic sculptor considered a pioneer in the field. Taylor later used these facial reconstruction abilities to help identify missing persons and work on documentaries, studies, and other projects.

Throughout her career, Taylor served as a forensic art instructor at the FBI Academy and other international universities, medical schools, and law enforcement academies. She is also the author of Forensic Art and Illustration, which is considered an important text in the field of forensic art. Her artwork has been featured on numerous television programs, including America's Most Wanted. In addition, a character on the popular television drama CSI: was based on Taylor and her work.

In 1999, Taylor retired from the Texas Department of Public Safety. She continues to work as a forensic artist, but also works on fine art commissions from her studio in Austin. In 2002 she became the first woman to win the John A. Dondero Award from the International Association for Identification .

see also Composite drawing; Identification; Television shows.