Friday, June 1 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
32. (Contemporary Art) Conservation of The Spirit of Sunday in Shaw by Billy Colbert; Challenges of Treatment Design and Execution for Oversized, Contemporary, Multimedia Artwork

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This poster will present the treatment of an oversized, contemporary, multimedia artwork in the collection of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The Spirit of Sunday in Shaw by Billy Colbert is a varnished and screen printed artwork on two found photographs printed on RC paper and attached to separate aluminum panels using a pressure-sensitive adhesive. The aluminum panels are attached with screws to a wood and aluminum framework for display and installation. Commissioned for the space, the artwork has hung in the Washington Convention Center since 2003. Shortly after installation, the artwork developed large, snaking, draw-like distortions across the surface that cyclically worsened and improved every summer and winter until they were permanently held in place just four years after installation. In addition to these distortions, one of the aluminum panel supports was warped, bulging outward at the central join of the two panels. These problems compromised the stability and visual integrity of the artwork, thus necessitating conservation treatment. Consultation with the artist in addition to a collaboration between, paintings, photography, and paper conservators allowed for a multidisciplinary approach to be developed. An extensive testing phase was implemented, not only to examine the solubility parameters of the materials, but to design methods that would be effective in treating the artwork. This phase included the creation of mock-ups to determine how the artwork could be re-assembled if removed from the aluminum panels. In addition to defining an appropriate treatment, it was necessary to discuss the cause of the distortions in the support and what steps would be required to prevent them from recurring. With all the data gathered, confident that conservation intervention would stabilize the support and significantly improve the visual appearance of the artwork, a treatment was designed and executed to remove the varnished and screen printed RC paper from the aluminum support, eliminate the distortions, modify the aluminum panel and framework support, and finally re-attach the artwork back onto the aluminum panels and framework. While art in public spaces is often subject to less than ideal conditions for preservation, the Washington Convention Center was willing to collaborate with conservators to improve the installation location and maintain a more consistent display environment for the artwork.

avatar for Kristen Loudermilk

Kristen Loudermilk

Conservator of Paintings, ARTEX Conservation Laboratory
Kristen earned her BS in Biochemistry, BA in Chemistry, and BA in Art History from Virginia Tech in 2003 and her Master’s in Art Conservation with a specialty in Paintings from Queen’s University in 2005. She has practiced paintings conservation at the ARTEX Conservation Laboratory... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm MDT
Texas Ballroom (Foyer outside Ballrooms - Poster Session) Marriott Marquis Houston