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Friday, May 31 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
(Paintings) Assembly-Line Conservation for the Recovery of Haitian (Paintings)

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Every single painting to be conserved in the “atelier” at the Haiti Cultural Recovery Center (SIHCHR) was severely damaged and in need of urgent care. The overwhelming and scary sight of these wrecked paintings, dug out from the rubble after the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, never intimidated the fourteen AIC Professional Conservators that worked in the first International Smithsonian Institution project.

The author of this paper was contracted by the Smithsonian Institution to work and oversee activities at the SIHCHR paintings conservation studio. Stephanie Hornbeck, the project’s chief conservator, handed me the list of paintings to be conserved as well as those with treatment in progress. Due to budget constraints, I found myself having to rapidly adapt to the two-week on-site and two-week back in the US working schedule while following up on treatments started by previous conservators. With the help AIC P/A volunteers, I was able to implement an ‘assembly-line’ conservation program. I would meet with one of the volunteers during one week of my stay to discuss the work, agree upon and perform treatments together. The baton would then be handed to the conservator who continued the work with the local assistants. Discussions among the volunteer conservator and I regarding treatments would continue over the Internet. Two weeks later, back in Haiti, I would pick up the baton to continue the treatment on the various paintings and get the work ready for the next conservator volunteer.
While conducting very complex treatments we were also able to train three skillful and dedicated Haitian artists and art teachers at the Ecole Nationale des Arts (ENARTS), who assisted in the project. In the course of four months, the team efforts were reflected on the sixteen Haitian paintings that were recovered from the disaster.

In this paper, I will describe the assembly-line conservation process used in the successful restoration of the paintings that originally were in such a deteriorated state that it would have been a formidable challenge for any laboratory in the world. I will present the case study of a selected group of paintings from some Haitian leading modern and contemporary artists. Some of these paintings include Mario Benjamin’s Portrait of an Old Woman recovered from the National Palace in five pieces, Stevenson Magloire’s painting representing Jean Bertrand Aristide as a priest, brought to the Center in eight pieces, and Max Pinchinat ‘s Portrait of Lady.

Traditional treatments met innovative methods. There were many cases where the lack of materials or proper equipment forced us to be very creative. We faced other challenges like compensating for large losses while at the same time acknowledging their historical value as a result of the 2010 earthquake that so deeply affected Haitian culture.

avatar for Viviana Dominguez

Viviana Dominguez

Chief Conservator, Art Conservators Lab, LLC
Viviana Dominguez is a specialist in conservation of large-scale works of art on public places wall paintings and easel paintings. She has worked in the field since 1983, preserving national monuments internationally. She has broad experienced on a large variety of materials and paint... Read More →

Friday May 31, 2013 11:30am - 12:00pm EDT
JW Marriott White River Ballroom F 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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