Lee Conell is the author of the story collection Subcortical, which was awarded the 2018 Story Prize Spotlight Award. Her fiction has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. The recipient of fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, she currently teaches at Vanderbilt University.
Our distant ancestor Harriett Moss made a living painting portraits of dead children. But before her career began in earnest, she sketched only cows. It was her husband, Thomas Moss, who painted from corpses, memorializing deceased sons and daughters for their families. People often said Thomas had the constitution for the work because he and Harriett had not been able to have children of their own. While Thomas traveled the countryside—following up with commissions, measuring cadavers that he would reanimate in two dimensions—Harriett was left alone at their farmhouse.