Back To Schedule
Wednesday, May 15 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Photographic Materials) A Context-Based Approach to Conserving Photographs On Textiles

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

The use of textile as a photographic support is relatively rare and best practices for long-term care have yet to be established. Textile-based photographs incorporated into composite objects require a multi-pronged, contextually informed conservation strategy. A recent Smithsonian project brought together experts in photograph and textile conservation, as well as conservation scientists, to examine eleven quilts bearing photographic images in the Anacostia Community Museum’s collections. Efforts focused on (1) identifying and documenting the materials and techniques used to create textile-based photographs and (2) developing best practices for the long-term care and preservation of these quilts. The project combined technical analyses of the photographs with curatorial and archival research to enhance and fully document the artists’ work and intent. The outcome is the development of a historically informed, context-based approach for the treatment and care of textile-based photographic prints. Photographic image materials, binders, and coatings were examined with HIROX microscopy, x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The eleven quilts total 144 photographs-on-textile. Analyses confirmed the presence of gelatin silver photographic image material on several quilts, while other images appeared to be digital inkjet printing on commercially prepared fabric. Photomicrographs served to catalog areas of loss and flaking characteristic of each printing process. The gelatin silver photographic material suffered from flaking of the photographic emulsion layer and planar distortions of the primary support. Conservation concerns include the need to stabilize the flaking photographic emulsion and relax the fabric supports. To test the efficacy of treatment methods, conservators created mock-ups of the different photographic processes on a range of textile supports. This also made it possible to recommend improved storage methods for the quilts for long-term preservation. Archival research and interviews with friends and colleagues of the quilt-artists provided invaluable contextual information about the artists’ motivations and technical approaches. Several images were sourced to specific archives enabling comparison of the original photographic print on paper with the resulting textile-based print and contributing to a fuller understanding of the artists’ technical approaches to reproducing the image on textile. The context-based method of the project ensured that conservation treatment recommendations were developed with full consideration of both the physical and chemical properties of materials, and a sound understanding of the artists’ motivations and sources of inspirations.

avatar for Annaick Parker

Annaick Parker

collections contractor, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
Annaick Keruzec is a textile conservator who currently works at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) as a collections specialist focusing on photographically illustrated quilts and a rehousing project. From 2015-2017 she was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Smithsonian... Read More →

avatar for Gwénaëlle Kavich

Gwénaëlle Kavich

Conservation Scientist, Museum Conservation Institute. Smithsonian Institution
Gwénaëlle Kavich, Conservation Scientist at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, earned a BSc in Chemistry from The Nottingham Trent University (U.K.) and a PhD in Chemical Sciences from the University of Pisa (Italy). She contributes to a wide range of technical studies... Read More →
avatar for Miriam Doutriaux

Miriam Doutriaux

Collections Manager, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
Miriam Doutriaux is the Collections Manager at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, where she oversees the preservation, documentation, and housing of a diverse collection related to urban and community life. She is interested in the ways material culture connects with identity... Read More →
avatar for Shannon A. Brogdon-Grantham

Shannon A. Brogdon-Grantham

Photograph Conservator, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
Shannon A. Brogdon-Grantham is the Photograph and Paper Conservator at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI). She obtained her M.S. from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation where she specialized in photograph conservation with minor... Read More →
avatar for Thomas Lam

Thomas Lam

conservation scientist, Smithsonian Conservation Institute
Thomas Lam has a Ph.D. in Ceramics from Alfred University. After his PhD, Thomas completed a postdoc at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Thomas is a Physical Scientist at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (MCI), where he applies his knowledge... Read More →

Wednesday May 15, 2019 2:30pm - 3:00pm EDT
Earth Ballroom B Earth Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Photographic Materials
  • Track Photographic Materials
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Annaick Keruzec, Shannon Brogdon-Grantham, Miriam Doutriaux, Gwénaëlle Kavich, Tomas Lam
  • Abstract ID 18713
  • Tags photographs on textile,quilts,flaking photographic emulsion,archival research,artists' interviews