pretty impressive. sam gibbons toes the line between illustration and art, if a line still exists between them. his pieces are complex in their amount of information, but at first sight strike one with their simplicity of composition and palette. the uniformity of each piece balances the abundance of information held in them. and his installations bring to life his somewhat unsettling worlds in a way that seems as if he was in fact painting from life.
in october i began volunteering at the mathers museum in the conservation lab. i started by doing research on six dance costumes from brazil and western africa to discern how they were used and how they have since been stored by other museums. then i began constructing storage supports for them. most of them were in storage for decades in ways that put stress on the objects, most of which are primarily straw and very brittle. so i've now completed all six, and they're now in storage and much more stable.
|the kids (minus the skirt), poor storage. most just one or two points of contact, resulting in|
severe stress at places not intended to support the costume
|#1: in progress...|
|#1: better! (before the hanger was in direct contact with the skirt)|
|#2: terrible - stress on the stop, caving in of the headdress.. |
(the braided part was for transportation purposes and never undone.
at this point it would be more stressful on the grass to unbraid it.)
|#2: easier to see the deformation|
|#2: much better! (but ugly... that, too, will be improved soon)|
|#4: ... in progress ...|
|#4: much better! distributed stress, easy removal from hanger|
|#5: all the weight is being put on the top|
|#5: really bad. only support for the whole costume|
|#5: somewhat better|
|#5: future support, in progress (end product stuffed for better support and covered with fabric)|
|#5: much better. attachment at head does little more than keep the costume balanced|
|my costumes, happier hangings.|
so this is pretty impressive. he makes sculptures that seem commonplace or without special significance until you hit a certain point, and then everything changes. trees spell out words, apparently abstract forms take on literal meanings, and light creates shadows that give significance to what they were cast by...
in september i began volunteering at the auxiliary library facility (alf) conservation lab (part of iu libraries). i started small, but loved those baby steps. there's something about conservation labs - their neatness and calm - that is very soothing, regardless of what the task is. and i think i have an affinity for the tedious. among other things i worked on a set of letters about a hundred years old. pretty gentle treatment - surface cleaning and tear mending (with japanese tissue and wheat paste).
|surface cleaning! dirty paper, brush, eraser shavings|
|mending station: wheat paste, tweezers, brush, scalpel, tacking iron, weights, remay, blotter|
|nice view, sunny day|
|back room of the lab - beautifully clean|
|mended! (almost) good as new|
last summer i was lucky enough to have the opportunity to help margaret contompasis at the iu art museum (along with another undergrad, a grad student, and two other conservators) treat two of iu's thomas hart benton murals from his cycle of the cultural and technological history of indiana. the two we treated were the last in the cycle chronologically (besides two lunettes that have since been lost) and are housed at woodburn hall. the cultural panel is extremely controversial because it depicts the kkk, which had a strong presence in indiana at one point (based out of martinsville). the mural in no way supports the kkk, but benton believed that a history of indiana could not leave the group out. they're shown in the background, to show that their beliefs and influence have since been disregarded, but the mural has still received some pretty harsh treatment. everything from soda (more acidic than you want to know) from chewing tobacco have successfully made their way on to the mural. our process was long but extremely rewarding. using cotton swabs we cleaned and removed the varnish, consolidated, inpainted, then reapplied the varnish. the difference is spectacular.
|cleaning w/ cotton swabs|
|checking the consolidation|
|pretty bad shape: loss, flaking, tenting, cupping, all of it.|