Murder on Union Hill Road / Hazlitt
Submitted By Rebekka Dunlap
Trigger Warning: Allusions to violence, Murder
“Murder on Union Hill Road” is a series Art Directed by Anshuman Iddamsetty for Hazlitt (Penguin Random House of Canada) that punctuates the written account of the journalist, Kathleen Hale as she travels to Ohio to interview the community and last surviving members of the Pike County Massacre.
The aim of this series was to create a visual set of images that conveys the sadness of Pike County, the magnitude of carnage that fell upon the head of the Rhoden Family and the horrific scream of futility that mounts as you read the story. Balancing the descriptive with the underlying pulse of the murder accounts and Kathleen’s personal response was what was on my mind as I drew.
In this project there were a few different challenges that weaved between the execution of the actual drawings and my own emotions. First off, Anshuman Iddamsetty and I at this point had already worked together many times and for this assignment he was very open and trusting, basically allowing me to take the series where it needed to be. This in and of itself was a bit stressful but I’m thankful for his support and guidance that came more in the form of candid conversation than passionless edits.
Though my own approach to illustration is serious, I do stylistically skew into cartoon-esque territory. But for this one, as I researched and flipped through the personal photos of the victims (forwarded to me by the author) the notion of stylizing these images as I normally would was out of the question. I had images of abandoned rocking chairs on weathered porches, rusted out swing sets and the smiling faces of pimply faced teenagers, now deceased, standing beside their father in their prom dresses. Basically the last few gasps of the Rhoden Family.
Though I didn’t realize it immediately the pressure I felt was because this was in a way a memorial to them which was driven home when you realize their own community wanted nothing more than to forget they ever existed. On top of this, I was well aware of the fact that their murderer had never been found, and these images would no doubt be seen by the person that had so unceremoniously slaughtered them in their beds.
I don’t think I’ve ever had an assignment that was as emotionally frightening and it required me to peel away stylistic frivolities and allow the images to exist as they needed to in their own cold space.
Murder on Union Hill Road
Innovative Use of Media
Publications & Media