Archive for the ‘Cecil Ison’ Category

Cecil Ison: Forensic Anthropomorphologist

January 22, 2008

Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader photo of Cecil Ison’s dolls by David Stephenson posted May 18, 2005. You can hear Ison explain his yard art in a Herald-Leader multimedia show featuring more photographs by David Stephenson. An excerpt of Andy Mead’s feature from the paper is here.

Cecil’s daughter, poet Anna Sunshine Ison, writes,

my father who is an archaeologist by profession and a minister by mail order degree has also declaimed himself the premier forensic anthropomorphologist in the country. which means he finds babydolls who have been somehow mutilated in the forest or on the road (or now people just give them to him) and investigates their deaths. then he nails some of them (parts or whole) on our woodshed and puts the heads in a giant three foot bubble gum machine that someone found in the woods. Then every year he picks the most gruesome photos and adds a themed photo of himself (this year it will be the two of us in white shirts and ties seated solemly at a table examining a doll surrounded by dollparts taped to stakes) and makes a yearly calender.

Retired as chief archaeologist for the Daniel Boone National Forest (bio from that site) where he researched ancient fires in the vicinity of Cliff Palace Pond, Cecil Ison lives on the Morehead, KY farm his father bought when he returned home from WWII. A Vietnam veteran, Ison developed PTSD when the current Iraq war started, but he keeps on keeping on.

I wanted to let you hear Ison’s voice and see his work, before I referred you to a feature in the January GQ, “The Long Shadow of War,” by Kathy Dobie, which, while a piece of gorgeous writing, turns Ison into something less than himself.

Also, see this eloquent piece”Yesterday’s Lies” by Vietnam veteran John Corey (website) on the death of Sgt. Gerald Cassidy at Fort Knox published January 8 on Truthout. In it he writes,

As I browse through old pictures of my days in war, I find myself wanting to crawl inside a photograph or two just to touch and smell those wonderful faces and hear their voices again. And sometimes when I rub my fingers over a particular photo, I’m never sure which side of the picture I’m on. Am I looking in or looking out?

For resources on PTSD disorder, see the blog, Healing Combat Trauma. For an archive of news and other items of interest to veterans, see Veterans for Common Sense.