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Photographer Documents Thief Who Stole Her Identity For Art Installation

By Hanssie on November 29th 2014

jessamynlovell3As artists, we have a tendency to deal with life’s traumas by creating. Whether we’re dealing with an illness of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the death of a family member or any of the curveballs that get thrown at us, many of us turn to our art to soothe our damaged psyches. Sometimes, some of our best work and ideas are born out of the dark times in our lives, the struggles seem to manifest themselves from something ugly to a creative outpouring from our souls.


Jessamyn Lovell was at SF Camerawork, an art gallery, to discuss an upcoming exhibition when her wallet was stolen and inevitably her identity compromised by a San Francisco woman named Erin Hart. Jessamyn discovered that her identity was stolen when she began getting parking tickets, bills and a court summons for charges of theft. Jessamyn ended up spending months preparing documentation to present to the courts to defend herself of a crime she didn’t commit, from a woman who not only stole Jessamyn’s identity, but used her stolen ID upon arrest. Born out of anger, Jessamyn began the  project, Dear Erin Hart, with the help of a private investigatorby began documenting the thief as she was released from the Alameda County jail.

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Through photography, video, and other forms of documentation, I make an attempt at understanding this woman and the course of events that brought [our] lives together,” says Jessamyn. As the project went on, she found that she was curious about the woman who stole her identity, wanting to understand who Hart was and why she did what she did. In an almost voyeur-esque, stalker-ish manner, Jessamyn followed Hart around the city of San Francisco in a dark SUV and photographed Hart’s comings and goings. This project has helped her explore issues of privacy and even find a bit of understanding for the woman who has wreaked havoc on Jessamyn’s life.

In the end, most people read the project as taking her anonymity, which I like but I think of it more as she entered my life without my permission and then I responded. I took a difficult situation that happened to me and made it into something I could learn from and hopefully share with others to learn from.

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The project was exhibited last month in the very gallery where it all began where her wallet was stolen. As a culmination to the project, Jessamyn hopes to sit down with Hart and ask her some questions and at the very least acknowledge her existence. Jessamyn is currently raising money to get to New Mexico for this meeting by selling her prints on Etsy.

To read more about this interesting project, check out Jessamyn Lovell’s website here.

[Via My Modern Met]


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Graham Curran

    Revenge served up cold.

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  2. Rafael Steffen

    Lord of the Flies or The most Dangerous Game!

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  3. Nick Viton

    the hunter becomes the hunted

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