Retiree's talent for drawing puts her on new career path
IN THE PAST TWO YEARS, retired art teacher Shirley Forpe has captured a number of criminals- on paper, that is. Forpe is the forensic composite artist for the Palatine (111.) Police Department.
Armed with charcoal pencils and a sketchpad, Forpe can render an accurate image for the police within an hour.
"Drawings are not like photographs," she explains. "Photographs are unforgivmg; the photo either looks like the person or it doesn't. Drawing is more forgiving; I can make adjustments, or I can catch something that rings a bell for people," says Forpe, a former president of the NW Suburban Teachers Union in suburban Chicago.
Forpe was inspired to use her talent to help victims of crime by a substitute teacher and victims' right advocate whose daughter was murdered. In 2005, after retiring from teaching art at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, 111., Forpe took a course at Northwestern University to become a certified forensic composite artist. She began working for the Palatine Police Department a year later.
It was "not so much about drawing but about learning how to listen," she says. People remember more than they think they do, Forpe explains. They may remember things like the sound of a person's voice or tattoos or piercings - "details that are sometimes …