Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Portraits in Preservation SE - Tatiana Cole

Portraits in Preservation Student Edition, Preservation Week 2012

Tatiana earned a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Biology from Florida International University. Her undergraduate thesis was on the application of fluorescent nanocrystals as labels in both biological and biophysical systems. While working on her degree, Tatiana returned to her birthplace in Italy to regain her knowledge of Italian, spending a year in Florence studying art history and art. Motivated by a desire to combine her scientific and artistic interests, Tatiana moved to New York City in 2007 to pursue a career in art conservation and interned at various institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, Gladys Brooks Book and Paper Conservation Laboratory, and Winterthur Museum’s Paintings Conservation Studio. She took part in the analysis and conservation of paintings, rare books, and ethnographic, modern, and contemporary objects. As a Graduate Fellow in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, Tatiana chose to major and minor in photograph and paper conservation, respectively. She spent summer internships in photograph conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, and Paul Messier LLC, Boston-based, world-leading studio specializing in photograph conservation. Tatiana is currently doing her third year internship at Harvard University’s Weissman Preservation Center working primarily with photographs, but also getting exposure to working with audio-visual materials. She has given talks on interviewing artists, a technical analysis of a mixed-media collage by artist David Driskell, and two case studies on the treatment of photographs on Gevaluxe Velours paper. Tatiana was recently awarded a Photographic Materials Group Professional Development Stipend to conduct research related to staining in contemporary platinum/palladium photographs. Her prospective graduation date is August 2012.

What experience or person has greatly influenced your desire to pursue preservation?

Such as the preservation profession requires varied strengths, there has not been just one experience or person to have influenced me to pursue preservation. My ancestors were artists and craftsmen, and my parents brought me up to hold art and creative expression in the highest esteem. Therefore, preserving art and our cultural heritage, and interacting with it in a more intimate way was very appealing to me. Furthermore, art conservation seemed to be the best fit for my aptitude for science, art and working with my hands.

I did pre-program internships in numerous conservation labs, and I was especially moved by my supervisors. They were passionate about their work, seemed to continue learning new things year after year, and appeared to be fulfilled by their work. This inspired me along my path towards becoming a conservator.

What has been a particularly rewarding experience in your preservation training?

Making photographs exhibitable and accessible again has been particularly rewarding–making photographs strong enough and bringing back their aesthetic integrity, so that they may be appreciated and studied by viewers and researchers.

What are you looking forward to personally contributing to the larger preservation world?

Photography related materials can be found in most cultural institution, if not all, and I look forward to being able to help in a variety of capacities, such as consulting on proper handling practices and storage conditions, and performing item-level treatments of photographs. I am drawn to the practice of researching the materials and methods used by individual photographers, and then making that information available to the conservation community to help inform treatment approach. I also hope to work with living artists and learn more about how photograph related materials are making their way into contemporary installation art.

What do you see is a pressing issue facing the preservation world?

There are many countries in the world with historically significant photograph collections that are in dire need of attention, but with no photograph conservators to help take care of them. More support is needed in this area.

Bonus question (optional) - What do you want to preserve and why?

I want to preserve photographs because so much of our history over the last 150 years has been documented using photography–a medium that is accessible by anyone regardless of the language they speak. Photographs are everywhere, and anyone can relate to them at some level. With regards to fine art, I am very drawn to the various photographic processes and the different ways they are used by artists as expressive media. As a conservator, working with photographs often means being confronted with new materials and new interesting problems to solve.

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