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Mother, Interrupted

MARCH 25, 2008
Final selected cover image
An incorrect hunch by a pediatrician results in the court-ordered separation of a 3 year-old girl from her loving mother.  The mother originally brought her daughter in for an evaluation of the child's physical developmental issues.  The doctor felt that the mother was creating these conditions in her daughter via Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (when a mother causes illness in her child in order to gain sympathy and attention for herself).  This was not a proven diagnosis, simply a hunch that she reported to officials.  There's only one problem.  The mother was in fact a devoted caregiver. 

By the time a contradictory second opinion was obtained, the damage was already done.  Now it was time for the agency to circle the wagons to save their own asses.  They dropped the original charge and replaced it with a newly conceived charge of "Excessive Care".  That's right, she was just caring too much for the special needs of her child. 

The New Times Phoenix AD, Peter Storch, and I went back and forth between whether the image should depict the moment before or after the "intervention" by the agency.  We also considered versions with and without the mother's hands.  In the end, with the headline , they were included.

Another tough topic but a great subject to work with.  Peter has only been at the New Times for a few weeks, but he's an AD to put on your mailing list.
Alternate moment in conflict.
The selected sketch before the mother was cropped to maintain the focus on the child figure.
The image without the mother figure. I like this one more compositionally, but they were missing the mother element's pay-off of the headline.
I've updated this post with a couple samples of some of my raw materials. See below.
Scanned texture that bird tail, wings, and child's hair were made from.
Used this scanned texture to create the birds leg feathers and the red dress.
Topical: Recent Work