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Wednesday, May 15 • 9:30am - 10:00am
(Opening Session) Is Art like Language? Linguistic Approaches for the Future of Conservation

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Outrage and ridicule followed recent “botched” restorations of a sculpture of St. George and a fresco depicting Ecce Homo, both in Spain. What is the role of the conservation professional in responding to such “scandals”? Is it possible to uphold standards and ethics while remaining relevant and sensitive in a global, digitized world where stakeholders for artworks are geographically and culturally diverse? This presentation explores linguistic approaches as possible models for navigating the choppy waters of authority over authenticity. If linguistic purists had had their way, English wouldn’t have evolved into the rich global language it is today. On the other hand, unchecked, without standards, the shared meaning of language would have muddied, eroding its efficacy as a tool for communication. Does use determine meaning in art as it does in language? If so, current conservation paradigms may reign in the relatively controlled environments of museum and institution, but additional tools may be needed for the field to participate in the broader, popular discussion of cultural heritage. The presentation attempts to envision the field of conservation beyond the walls of museum and collection and on the world stage.

avatar for Cybele Tom

Cybele Tom

Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Objects Conservation, Art Institute of Chicago
Cybele Tom is Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Department of Conservation and Science at The Art Institute of Chicago. With a focus on painted objects, she pursues broad interests in conservation theory and ethics. She graduated from New York University, Institute of Fine Arts with... Read More →

Wednesday May 15, 2019 9:30am - 10:00am EDT
Salon A & B, Uncas Ballroom
  General Session, Opening General Session