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Wednesday, May 31 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
049. (Paintings) 'Rutabaga: In: The Sky' – Creative Solutions to Modern Treatment Problems

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"Rutabaga: In: The Sky" (1978-79) by American artist McArthur Binion (b. 1946) is an abstract minimalist work in oil stick and Dixon Wax crayon, on a large ball-grained aluminum lithographic plate. The piece was acquired by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in 2014, and is currently on display in the Visual Arts (VA) gallery as part of the museum's inaugural exhibit, which opened in the fall of 2016. Before arriving at NMAAHC in 2014, Rutabaga: In: The Sky was damaged as a result of an impact sustained during transit. This impact to the front of the work left a large dent in the lithographic plate. Considering the extent of the structural damage, damage to the soft crayon media was relatively minor; however, the impact initiated the failure of the epoxy glue which secured the thin, flexible support to its aluminum strainer. Conservation treatment was essential to stabilize the work in preparation for exhibit. The conservation of Binion's "Rutabaga: In: The Sky" included consultation with the artist, materials testing and analysis, and the collaboration of paintings conservators, objects conservators, and exhibits specialists from three Smithsonian institutions. This collaboration allowed us to devise an innovative and creative treatment solution, which respects the artist's intent, and will safely support the artwork for NMAAHC's inaugural exhibit and beyond. Many of McArthur Binion's contemporaneous works employ the same materials and methods, and are therefore at risk for similar damage – The thin lithographic plates can be bent if not adequately supported, and the soft oil and crayon media employed by the artist is vulnerable to pressure, abrasion, heat, and can easily imbibe dirt and dust. Lessons learned from the study and treatment of this work can be used to inform the conservation - both interventive and preventive - of other works by the artist, or those of by other artists employing similar materials and techniques.

avatar for Stephanie Barnes

Stephanie Barnes

Conservator of Paintings, Barnes
Stephanie Barnes is a graduate of the Queen's University Master in Art Conservation program where she specialized in the conservation of paintings. She also holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from Mount Allison University and an M.Sc. in Chemistry from Laval University. Stephanie recently... Read More →


Craig Huzway

Exhibition Specialist, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution
Craig Huzway is an exhibition specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). He worked as a consultant and collaborator with conservators at NMAAHC and MCI for the installation and display of paintings and painted objects for NMAAHC's visual arts gallery.
avatar for Antje Neumann

Antje Neumann

Conservator, National Museum of African American History & Culture
Professional Associate of AIC.Experience with museum collections, exhibits and collections care since 1994.Post-graduate conservator since 1999.Conservation and exhibition experience in eight museums, two seasons on-site in Turkey working on archaeological finds, and worked at the... Read More →
avatar for Jia-sun Tsang

Jia-sun Tsang

Senior Paintings Conservator, Museum Conservation Institute
Jia-sun Tsang is senior paintings conservator at the MCI, where she conserves paintings for Smithsonian museums. She holds an M.Sc. from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation and an M.Sc. in chemistry from Bowling Green State University, OH. Since 2007... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 3:30pm - 4:00pm CDT
Riverside West Exhibit Hall Exhibit Level, East Tower
  9. Poster, Paintings