ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — An Albuquerque woman had her identity stolen, but she fought back. Jesamynn Lovell, an art professor at the University of New Mexico, wanted the thief to know exactly how it affected her. So she turned the experience into an art project.
It started when Lovell lost her wallet in a San Francisco art gallery in 2010. More than a year later, Lovell got a call from San Francisco Police, asking if she had given someone else permission to use her New Mexico driver license.
She later learned a woman used her identity to rent cars, check in to hotels and commit crime.
It took a trip to California to clear her name in court and months more working to unravel the damage that had been done.
“The charge got dismissed and I was so relieved, that I even started crying a bit,” she said. “Then I turned and walked out the courtroom doors and thought, ‘Oh, no. This is not okay.'”
She contacted a private investigator, who helped her find the woman once she got out of jail for a slew of charges, including using a false identity.
Lovell trailed the woman on and off for two years and documented the process of restoring her identity. The resulting photos and video became an art installation, which was first on exhibit in the very art gallery where her wallet was stolen.
She contacted the woman’s parole officer, who gave the woman a letter Lovell wrote, inviting her to the exhibit.
“I guess a part of me knew she probably wouldn’t show up, but I had really hoped she would,” she said.
She hopes it will cause other people thinking about using someone else’s identity to think twice.
“This whole piece was meant to say to her, like, ‘I did this because of what you did. I’m a person,'” Lovell said. “I just wanted her to know she affected a person.”