This blog details a fledgling conservator’s internship within a small institution’s permanent collection. A good conservator is like a steward, who cares for objects while the owner is gone. This can involve finding its true beauty, which could be as drastic as cleaning or as simple as storing in a stable environment. Therefore, one must learn about the object to determine what is most valuable. As part of my internship, I am blogging about my experience as well as including related research.
If you have ever enjoyed living in the Anne Wright Wilson Art building like I do then you have probably seen this work of art hanging in front of the gallery. Have you ever wondered what it was about? Or even what it is? Well today, in this blog post, I will tell you all about this mystery work.
This work, simply titled Untitled, was created by a former GC student Kristen Chandler-Long. Created with a shirt suspended in plaster, this was as Long describes “my first experimentation with organic forms in sculpture.” Long during school worked primarily with the painting medium, in which she describes her painting style as “automatic using poured painting and a squeegee to manipulate the paint on canvas. The outcome created a free spontaneous and organic layered effect.” This in turn is what she translates into her sculpture. Which one could read how the pouring of the plaster on the shirt to form an organic form that still has resemblances of the original shirt itself.
In fact, the creation of this piece inspired her to create an installation piece in 2001 entitled Sunday Morning Closet which she described as using “various articles of men’s and women’s dress clothes” that were also encased in plaster and hanging like this Untitled piece. This installation, as she notes, helped her win 1st place in sculpture that year in that year’s GC art show. She commented that “I wanted to achieve recognizable objects that told a story on its own, while showcasing a raw organic feel that the viewer can connect with internally.”
Long commented that her inspiration for her sculpture series come from the artist Cy Twombly. Who also used found object constructions, assemblages or everyday objects painted over with plaster or other white substances.
Sample of Cy Twombly's work called Untitled, 1954
Long graduated Georgetown in 2002, majoring in both Art Education and Studio/Painting with a minor in the Communication Arts with the Theatre department. She currently teaches and is working on her masters in Secondary Art Education.
If you love hanging out in the AWW Art building, you should take the time to admire the various works hidden around the building. You will find not only student work, but you will also find work of your professors and the alumnus before you. So take the time to look around the building that some art students consider a second home.
Recommendations for the Care for the work:
Caring for this work would be rather tricky. Primarily from the fact that plaster is a fragile substance. It not only reacts to physical damage of use and wear but also high humidity or dampness. Best methods for care would include making sure that the plaster has a seal. If it does carefully clean with a slighly damp cloth. Although, if the plaster cast does not have a seal, it would be best to remove any dust with a cloth or brush, or as the V & A suggests:
"Options for dry cleaning materials include Groomstick, a spongy, natural rubber product that is free from moisture, solvents or chemical additives (supplier: Conservation Resources Ltd); vulcanised rubber smoke sponges (supplier: Conservation Resources Ltd ) or a Mars Staedtler white pencil eraser with minimum pressure (available from stationers)"
In fact, the work itself has already experienced some wear and tear from its environment. If one looks at its back, it has already experienced a small crack that might grow into something more serious.
Back view of the Work
Detail of the Major crack found in on the back in the center towards the left
In addition, there are various other mini cracks throughout, especially around the open holes of the sleeves. These "damages" might have come from its handling, but it is more likely to occur from the constant humidity change of its environment. A good dusting of the work would be necessary as painting a seal layer to further protect it from drastic absorption of too much humidity. Another method of care would be to place the object in a sealed container with a more regulated environment. Limited handling and and creating a controlledenvironment would be the best preservation strategies while its on display.