Open Access Publications

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Open access publications by faculty, postdocs, and graduate students in the Department of Art Conservation.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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    Learning with a purpose: a metals chemistry course centered on objects conservation
    (Chemistry Teacher International, 2023-05-08) Hagerman, Madeline; Alcántara-García, Jocelyn
    Corrosion is the visible result of redox reactions on multiple substrates, “rust” being the known, although this term only applies to iron and iron alloy objects. Using corrosion as a relatable example to teach redox eases this concepts’ understanding because its results are visually identifiable; both in everyday objects like door hinges, and in cultural heritage objects like cannons. This article concerns the latter class of objects, as they have the potential to engage people interested in fields that seem unrelated to chemistry. The reality is the opposite, as cultural heritage professionals assess objects used in humanities disciplines like archeology and history through the lens of science. This article discusses how conservators approach corrosion on cultural heritage objects and provides experiments for any base-knowledge and age-level students to learn about the process of corrosion and electrochemistry.
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    Cartas Ejecutorias de Hidalguía (executory certificates of nobility): a survey in materials analysis, legal, and aesthetic contexts—two case studies
    (Heritage Science, 2023-01-10) Mercado-Oliveras, Verónica; Alcántara-García, Jocelyn
    Illuminated manuscripts are relatively well studied, but the available publications greatly focus on religious manuscripts of a geographically limited area. In contrast, technical examinations of illuminated legal documents have received far less attention, e.g., Spanish cartas ejecutorias de hidalguía (executory certificates of nobility). These documents are suitable case studies to deepen current knowledge of manuscript-making in Spain for two reasons: First, they are dated (late fifteenth to early eighteenth centuries); and second, they are unusual and understudied from both the textual and materials analysis standpoints. Cartas contain judicial proceedings whereby a family gained or was re-assigned hidalguía (lower nobility). A key exhibit to achieving this status was proving their “blood purity” which implied they were faithful Catholics, so finding religious representations within the document is common. In addition, families embedded their faith and links to monarchs in their coat of arms through symbols like crowned eagles, trees, and towers. The deliberate choice of heraldic and religious elements is as important as the materials used to produce them. Interested in better understanding illumination in Spain we are studying these unique documents from the historical, materials, and iconographic points of view. Herein, we present the earliest results of an ongoing survey, detailing two case studies: Davila and Nuñez D. Armesto cartas. This research uses a combination of: (a) instrumental techniques (X-ray fluorescence, reflectance, and infrared spectroscopies; peptide mass fingerprinting; and gas chromatography); and (b) historical research using both the manuscript’s contents as primary sources, and published research. The preliminary results are enabling us to shed light onto Spanish (legal) illuminated manuscript-making, and the symbolic role materials played, e.g., use of precious metals adorning monarchical elements, presence of ultramarine mixed with azurite on both coats of arms, and on Virgin Mary’s gown, etc. This survey intends to simultaneously learn more about illumination practices in Spain, inform conservation decisions, and hopefully better understand problems connected to historic ideologies that were legalized in beautiful albeit disturbing documents, e.g., persecution of non-Catholics at the time in Spain.
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    Leadership: the Act of Making Way for Others
    (Studies in Conservation, 2022-04-28) Wickens, Joelle D. J.; Gupta, Anisha
    Conservation in the United States (USA) is an elite field of mostly white, upper-middle-class women. While there have been efforts over the decades to diversify the field, they have not been successful in significantly changing the demographics. In January 2020, the authors embarked on addressing one aspect of diversification: shifting the culture from one of exclusion to one that listens to and takes direction from those who are excluded. We planned a workshop we thought was designed to include the excluded. We found it was still steeped in practices that maintain the dominant culture. This paper outlines how the experience of the global pandemic, the move from an in-person to an online workshop, and the impact of the social justice uprising resulting from George Floyd’s murder fundamentally changed how we designed and led this workshop. Our growth was shaped significantly by developing an understanding of White Supremacy Culture (WSC), a system where perfectionism, defensiveness, paternalism, either/or thinking, individualism, and objectivity help maintain the status quo. This new perspective informed the creation of a series of sessions where we acknowledged, examined, and deconstructed power and privilege. We learned that if we want to achieve inclusion, we must understand the current culture of exclusion and the ways it prevents the work of building inclusive spaces. Though WSC as defined here is specific to the USA, cultures of exclusion exist worldwide. Lessons learned from trying to dismantle WSC in US conservation can be applied more broadly to create equitable professional and social communities around the world.
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