Class Description:

This world renowned annual workshop is the result of a unique program developed by the Academy and the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, in which art students used skulls from actual “cold cases” to recreate the faces of the victims, in the hope of identifying unknown persons.

The New York Academy of Art is the national leader in teaching contemporary figurative art and its students follow a rigorous technical course of anatomical training and drawing from life. This specific artistic instruction allows Academy students to actively interpret the landscape of a skull and skillfully portray features and flesh. Fifteen students each receive a replica of the skull from a real unidentified body and used their sculptural and artistic training to accurately reconstruct the face of the victim in clay. The workshop is taught by Joe Mullins, a forensic imaging specialist. Bradley J. Adams, the director of forensic anthropology for the Office of the City Medical Examiner, has called clay facial reconstructions the “last-ditch effort” to identify unknown persons, after methods such as fingerprinting, dental records and DNA testing fail to yield results. When the reconstructions are completed, they are photographed and shared widely with law enforcement and missing persons organizations. Over the five years of the program, at least 4 positive identifications have been made from reconstructions made by Academy students. In 2020, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police asked the Academy if their students could work on 15 Canadian cases from British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Discoveries of the remains date from 1972 to 2019, with discovery sites ranging from a hiking trail to washed ashore on a beach, and include white, indigenous and Black unknown Canadians. The partnership with the New York Academy of Art is the single largest initiative undertaken by law enforcement in Canada to identify unknown remains.

Workshop Dates:

Scheduled occurrences for the next semester of this class are as follows:

Day 1:
10 am- 5 pm ET
Day 2:
10 am- 5 pm ET
Day 3:
10 am- 5 pm ET
Day 4:
10 am- 5 pm ET
Day 5:
10 am- 5 pm ET

  1. Before Class - Welcome & How to Prepare for Class

  2. Day 1 - Introduction and Skull Assignments

  3. Day 2 - Facial Muscles, Scalp, and Eyes

  4. Day 3 - Ears, Neck and Nose

  5. Day 4- Lips, Facial aging, and Hair

  6. Day 5 - Fine Tuning of the Face and Hair

  • $525.00
  • In-Person
  • 5 Days
  • Advanced

Meet Your Instructor

Joe Mullins


Mullins trained as a graphic designer before becoming a forensic imaging specialist. He studied at the Savannah College of Art & Design and has a degree from James Madison University. For his forensic skills, he received training from The FBI Academy, University of Oklahoma and the University of Dundee. Now, Mullins himself teaches Forensic Art Classes at the New York Academy of Art, in Tribeca, NY; George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, and The Art League in Alexandria, VA.

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Join us to discover traditional skills and contemporary practice

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