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Exhibition Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration

Aggie Kenny. Westmoreland Trial with Paint Box, 1984. Watercolor, ink, and graphite. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.00.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-50991 © Aggie Kenny
Gift of Tom Girardi

The Artist's Tools

Aggie Kenny, while covering Westmoreland v. CBS, 596 F.Supp. 1170 (1984), in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, found time to draw her paint box in this unfinished sketch. Courtroom artists work in situ, creating fully realized art ready for television or news cameras. Although cameras are increasingly permitted into courtrooms, when they are prohibited, artists use the tools of their trade and are ready to capture an energized moment. While perched in a front row seat to human drama, they look for subtle details of body language—how a defendant gulps, a lawyer gestures, a family member looks on in sorrow—sometimes capturing history in the making.