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June 06, 2003 - Image 80

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-06

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arole Kabrin's hands are tinged gray from
decades of drawing with charcoal. She is
one of the last few courtroom artists whose
creative abilities are slowly being rendered
unnecessary in an age of accessibility.
On retainer at ABC News and before that, local
WXYZ, she covered famous trials — former
Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Berry, Timothy
McVeigh, Mike Tyson, even the Supreme Court
once or twice. Once, she got her wish to draw a
trial related to the president, and she personally
handed Bill Clinton one of her renditions.
A born-and-bred Detroiter who is a longtime
member of Temple Israel, Kabrin is turning to
her love of portraiture and landscapes, and
teaching, to make a living as the need for
courtroom sketches subsides. She is working
on a portrait of "her" rabbi, Harold Loss
(shown in the photos, left).
"I'm about creating your own dreams," says
Kabrin, who began drawing at the age of 3.
Her influences include Michelangelo and
Edgar Degas, and Star Trek creator Gene
Roddenberry and Walt Disney, who, "through
their art, made a difference."
In 1975, Kabrin came to court as a way into
the world of TV. She sketched prominent
players of courtroom drama and spent days
practicing speed-drawing in the Wayne State
University cafeteria.
Courtroom drawings have long been a way
to give visual images to news audiences when
no cameras are allowed in court. Artists must
draw quickly, capturing attorneys, defendants,
judges and overall views. They are never even
guaranteed a close-enough seat.
Kabrin can draw on 19x25-inch paper "hard-
ly looking down at pen and paper. I feel the
edge of what I'm doing, gauge the depth." She
draws first in charcoal pencil, then adds color.
She tries to capture subjects in action.
"Courtroom art is going away," says Kabrin.
"They are letting cameras in the lower courts.
News organizations are enamored with video."
Nowadays, she works amid the grit and noise of
industry in a red-brick Detroit building that houses
artists' studios. Kabrin wears broken-in jeans over
long underwear, to bear the drafty casement win-
dows. Black sneakers pair with a black sweater and
leopard-print and turquoise necklace. Boxes upon
boxes hold hundreds of drawings.
A major Star Trek devotee, Kabrin has suggested
characters to make-up artist Michael Westmore. "I'm
about doing fun things with whatever talents you
have," she says.

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