Ph.D. in Preservation Studies
Marina Dobronovskaya (2013) on “The Material Culture of Stalinism: The City of Novgorod, Urban Reconstruction, and Historic Preservation in the Soviet Union after World War Two (1943-1955).”
Marina Dobronovskaya’s research focused on the post-war reconstruction of destroyed cities in the USSR—the largest state-planned reconstruction project of the twentieth century. The process and politics of this process were examined: how decisions were made, what was actually done, and the impact of reconstruction on contemporary society, especially on the professional development and philosophy of historic preservation. This research contributes to fledgling efforts to protect historical heritage in Russia and in other areas of the world and will be relevant to ongoing international efforts to reconstruct historic sites destroyed by wars and natural disasters.
Amanda Norbutus (2012) on “New approaches for the preservation of outdoor public murals: The assessment of removable protective coatings for mural paintings and painted architectural surfaces.”
Amanda Norbutus’s research evaluated the quality and performance of several coatings systems designed to protect outdoor murals from the chemical, mechanical, and physical stresses of everyday environmental exposure. Five solvent- and water-borne coatings systems were examined using Scanning Electron Microscopy, Fourier Transform-Infrared Spectroscopy, Raman Spectroscopy, Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, and Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry. Amanda worked with mural artists, civic leaders, arts advocates, mural arts commissions, and community leaders on the murals in Philadelphia and with Heritage Preservation’s Rescue Public Murals project.
Christina Cole (2010) on “The Contextual Analysis of pre-1856 Eastern Woodlands Quillwork Dyes Through Identification by Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry.”
Christina Cole's research focused on the scientific analysis of natural dyes on early Eastern Woodlands quillwork using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), fiber optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), and X-ray fluorescence (XRF). Her contributions include a nondestructive sampling technique for LC-MS, and a better understanding of Native North American dye technology from Contact to 1856. Analysis of quillwork collections housed by three major North American ethnographic museums provided evidence of an uninterrupted material culture tradition based on indigenous North American dyes that is at odds with the sense of acculturation implied by the quillwork dye literature.
Ph.D. in Art Conservation Research
Susan Louise Buck (2003) on “The Aiken-Rhett House: A comparative architectural paint study.” [Susan Buck’s dissertation won the Sypherd prize for best dissertation in the humanities in 2003.]
Susan Buck’s architectural paint analysis work at the 1818 Aiken-Rhett House proved to be a powerful archaeological tool for dating original elements, as well as later alterations, using photographs of the reflected visible and ultraviolet light cross-sections for comparisons of the paint stratigraphies on all the representative elements. This analysis also established important relationships between the paints in the main house and the paints in the slave quarters of the kitchen/laundry building. It also developed a methodology for architectural paint analysis that could be applied to almost any type of architectural paint investigation, which is particularly relevant in a field that has no set standards for analysis work.
ElizaBeth Bede (2001) on “The Surface Morphology of Limestone and its Effects on Sulfur Dioxide Deposition.”
ElizaBeth Bede’s 2001 dissertation advances knowledge in architectural conservation science, both in the information presented in its conclusions and in significant methodological contributions. She studied the effects of pollutants on carbonate stone, especially on limestone types used in many historic structures in the United States, with the goal of being able to provide treatment guidelines. She conducted numerous laboratory experiments, and developed and tested new approaches to such experimental work. By using a wide variety of laboratory techniques and careful approach to experimental design and data analysis, she was able to draw many conclusions about how the effects of pollutants are controlled by issues such as surface roughness and pore networks of the stone, related to cleaning regimes. Due to the high quality of her research, her work was fully funded for her entire graduate career by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
E. Carl Grimm (1999) on “A Study of Authenticity in Paintings Attributed to Albert Pinkham Ryder.”
Albert Pinkham Ryder is one of the most forged American artists of all times. Carl Grimm’s dissertation constructed a systematic interdisciplinary approach combining procedures used in both art history and scientific analysis to discriminate between authentic and inauthentic works by Ryder. For each painting to be considered he demonstrated what should be the more expected characteristics with regard to provenance and history, subject matter, design, technique, color harmonies, physical structure, facture and patina, x-radiographic image, interlayer structure through cross-sectional analysis of paint samples, media diversity, and pigment analysis. The results confirmed and expanded discoveries in earlier published studies, and also highlighted three new discriminating features: a high incidence of Naples yellow in authentic works, a relative abundance of zinc white in the fakes, and a tendency of the authentic Ryders to test positive for the presence of saturated lipids in the media.
Susan Franz Cooperrider Lake (1999) on “The Relationship between Style and Technical Procedure: Willem de Kooning’s painting of the late 1940s and 1960s.”
Susan Lake’s dissertation on Willem de Kooning’s techniques is extremely important for both the understanding of the artist’s techniques that could readily be misinterpreted and changed by typical conservation procedures and for the care of some of these unique paint surfaces. De Kooning applied actual New York street dirt to his “Women” series of paintings in the 1940s to add to the gritty urban billboard-like impression of these works; conservators should be warned not to remove this grime thinking it is unwanted later accretion. For his nudes by the seashore of the Hamptons in the 1960s, he incorporated water and other unexpected substances into his paint media, perhaps in an attempt to capture the spumy appearance of the watery environment. Some of this pastoral but puckered paint continues to have drying problems four decades later; special Plexiglas boxes must be constructed if the paintings are sent to exhibitions, otherwise, the paint may stick to the protective glassine wrapping paper.
Carol Aiken (1998) on “A Context for the Advanced Studies of Portrait Miniatures Painted in Oil on Metal Supports.”
Carol Aiken’s 1998 Ph.D. dissertation was significant both for contributions to scholarship on the history of oil portrait miniatures and for contributions to methodology in technical art history. Aiken, a conservator, provided a model for how a conservator-scholar can take advantage of training and expertise in object examination to make unique, interdisciplinary contributions to art history and material culture studies. She combined in-depth archival research on primary sources with a systematic examination of objects under a binocular microscope to analyze 320 objects in Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Collection of 16th-18th century oil miniatures; her conclusions advance understanding of the history of miniature oil portraits and associated artistic practices, and provide practical information to guide conservators treating such objects.
B. D. Nandadeva (1998) on “Materials and Techniques of Kandyan and Southern Schools of Mural Paintings of Sri Lanka: mid-eighteenth to late-nineteenth centuries.”
Sri Lanka’s Buddhist temple wall paintings of the late-historical period that represent three stylistically different schools are considered to be one of the most important constituents of the cultural heritage of that country. Nandadeva’s 1998 dissertation on the characterization of materials and techniques of those paintings looked into whether the three schools also show technological differences between them, related the different degrees of deterioration to technological variations, and emphasized on the need for developing treatments that are specific to the material cum technological characteristics. He examined over 400 samples using optical microscopy, SEM, XRD, FTIR, EDX, TLC, and UV-visible spectroscopy. While confirming some of the information contained in a previous study, he reported for the first time the use of huntite, lead white, Prussian blue, lithopone, barium sulfate, gypsum, manganese blue, and the resinous character of a native binding medium, and distinguished flame carbon from soot. His dissertation is of immense value as a treatise on technical art history of Sri Lanka and is of utmost value to the conservator to understand the material cum technology-specific deterioration and determine appropriate treatment methodologies.