Preparing for African American Art: Conserving a Work By John Scott, Part 2
April 17, 2012
Sometimes loss is not a bad thing. In the case of art conservation, a tiny paint loss can be used to aid the conservators in their examination process. Here, objects conservator, Hugh Shockey, has the Hirox 3-D digital microscope focused on the edge of a small paint loss of the John Scott sculpture, Thornbush Blues Totem. The microscope allows conservators to take measurements in micrometers or microns (an average human hair is about 98 microns thick) and can produce a high resolution 3-dimensional map of the area. These images can provide valuable clues as to the stability of the current material as well as its thickness and can even provide information about its composition.
To the naked eye, I could only distinguish the paint layer directly on the steel but with the aid of the microscope I could clearly see three layers: the steel substrate, the ground (a preparatory layer to aid with paint adhesion), and the thin red paint on top. To give you an idea of scale, the paint layer combined with the ground underneath only measure about 216 microns. These photos will be saved and added to the report that is made by Hugh as part of the documentation of the condition of the piece before, during, and after treatment. This sculpture will be on view as part of the exhibition, African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, opening April 27.
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