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Southside Community Center presents forensic artist-author Carrie Stuart Parks in Book It series launch

Author and forensic artist Carrie Stuart Parks of North Idaho, is pictured in 2003. She will be featured speaker Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at the Southside Community Center’s first Book It! lecture series in Spokane, Wash. (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Author and forensic artist Carrie Stuart Parks of North Idaho, is pictured in 2003. She will be featured speaker Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at the Southside Community Center’s first Book It! lecture series in Spokane, Wash. (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
By Sandra Hosking For The Spokesman-Review

Spokane’s Southside Community Center’s inaugural Book It! will feature forensic artist and author Carrie Stuart Parks.

The event, titled “Using Art to Solve Crime,” will be Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the center, 3151 E. 27th Ave.

The Book It! series aims to engage the community and promote cultural literacy. “In a broader sense ‘to book it’ means to get moving. In our new forum series, we want to get our minds in motion through exposure to creativity, imagination and ideas,” the mission statement reads.

Said Book It! organizer and center board member Lynn Terry: “Anytime you introduce something new or expand on something you thought you knew, you just have a richer lifestyle, especially if it’s something you don’t necessarily believe to be true and you come to it with an open mind and a listening ear.”

The center wants to offer engaging content on the South Hill. “There’s so many great mind-expanding things going on, but most of them are downtown,” Terry says. “My goal is for people to walk out and go, ‘That was the best.’ ”

Stuart Parks’ interactive presentation will center on her career as a forensic artist and mystery novelist, and it will include audience participation and a question-and-answer period.

Stuart Parks, who lives in North Idaho, began as a fine artist. Her father had owned a crime lab where she began preparing story boards, accident scene drawings, and other assets for court. In 1985, she attended a composite drawing class at the FBI Academy and later studied facial reconstruction at the University of Alabama.

Today, Stuart Parks and her husband, Rick Parks, travel across the U.S. and Canada to teach forensic art to law enforcement agencies. The couple have taught more than 1,000 people, she estimates. She works for local agencies, recently creating a composite drawing for a well-publicized Spokane homicide. She also consults with students on cases.

She likes forensic art because it’s different. “It’s always something unusual. It’s challenging.

“Nothing’s ever the same way twice. I just like the unpredictability of my life … sometimes,” she said, laughing.

“Drawing is about seeing, not about what you think you see but about what is really there,” she says she tells her students. “I have to teach you to draw not what is in your head but what you need to specifically look at in the image in front of you. You need to know how your mind processes information and how it stores it in your mind.”

Stuart Parks also creates fine art, mostly watercolor paintings. Her abstract sailboat paintings at one time hung in the Coeur d’Alene Resort. She and her husband also have collaborated on how-to art books.

Her mystery novels, published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, always involve murder, feature an historical thread and forensic art, and contain a dog. “That’s my brand,” she says.

Her seventh novel, “Fragments of Fear,” will be published in July, and she is working on her eighth.

For the Book It! lecture, Stuart Parks plans to discuss the different types of forensic art, recognition versus recall and why and how drawings work, and information about cases, including historical ones like Billy the Kid. She also will speak about her novels.

“I will talk about how all the forensic work I did led to working on the novels. Depending on what the questions are, a lot of times people want to know how to get a novel published. I’m prepared to go into whatever direction the audience pulls me,” Stuart Parks says.

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