RATS Assistant Program Chair
Bio: Mina Porell is the Assistant Conservator of Paintings at the Barnes Foundation, where she participated in the international technical research project on Amedeo Modigliani and is currently carrying out the technical study of paintings by Henri Rousseau. Previously, Mina studied, analyzed, and treated eighteenth-century American paintings at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, focusing on the works of William Williams; still involved with this collaborative project, Mina is now part of the steering committee of the upcoming symposium, “Shifting Tides: Art in the Eighteenth-Century Caribbean,” which will bring conservators, scientists, and art historians together in an effort to broaden the narratives on eighteenth-century art and the significance of the Caribbean region. Mina is a 2018 graduate of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, and she has worked in various conservation roles at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL), the Atlanta Art Conservation Center, and the National Gallery for Foreign Art in her native Sofia, Bulgaria. She also holds a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Art in art and art history from Oglethorpe University. Mina’s main research and technical analysis interests include material characterization as a complement to archival research; the identification of material degradation phenomena and their implications on treatment; and developing cross-disciplinary collaborations to facilitate access to instrumental analysis.
Statement of Intent: As RATS members would agree, scientific analysis and technical studies are a crucial part of the conservation of cultural heritage. In my various appointments as a paintings conservator, I have been fortunate to have undertaken fascinating technical study projects, facilitated by supportive supervisors and colleagues and the availability of analytical tools, and this has become one of the most gratifying aspects of my work. Unfortunately, I have also come across situations where various barriers precluded access to this important source of information. Many of these would be familiar to RATS members—lack of funding and staffing are the usual culprits, but perhaps more surprisingly, sometimes other mundane and surmountable obstacles arise: individual/s reluctance to reach out and collaborate, unwillingness to share results, a sense that technical studies are too specific, esoteric, or irrelevant to practical treatment, and a misunderstanding of the breadth and accessibility of techniques, to name a few. As a result, technical research and analysis continue to remain off-limits to conservators and institutions that would greatly benefit from them in very real and practical ways; one initiative that immediately comes to mind is the Poison Book Project led by conservator Melissa Tedone and scientist Rosie Grayburn at the Winterthur Museum, which has resulted in the identification of 146 emerald green bindings in circulating library collections to date (http://wiki.winterthur.org/wiki/ARSENICAL_BOOKS_DATABASE, accessed 2/28/2023). With this in mind, and with a realistic expectation of what can be achieved within the purview of an AIC specialty group, as the assistant program chair of RATS, I would help with the continued dissemination of valuable research carried out in the US and beyond; I also hope to promote the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration across institutions in supporting meaningful scientific analysis and technical studies.
Bio: Douglas MacLennan is an Assistant Scientist in the technical studies research group at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI). His work focuses on the technical examination of works of art in collaboration with other scientists, conservators, and curators. His research interests include the development and application of scanning X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy and reflectance imaging spectroscopy (RIS) for better understanding original construction, degradation and condition, and historical interpretation. Prior to joining the GCI, he worked as an assistant paintings conservator at the J. Paul Getty Museum. He received a postgraduate diploma in the conservation of easel paintings from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and a double BA in History and German from the University of Michigan.
Selected recent publications:
Ricciardi, P.; Dooley, K. A.; MacLennan, D.; Bertolotti, G.; Gabrieli, F.; Patterson, C. S.; Delaney, J. K., Use of standard analytical tools to detect small amounts of smalt in the presence of ultramarine as observed in 15th-century Venetian illuminated manuscripts. Heritage Science 2022, 10 (1), 38.
Ghirardello, M.; Gonzalez, V.; Monico, L.; Nevin, A.; MacLennan, D.; Patterson, C. S.; Burghammer, M.; Réfrégiers, M.; Comelli, D.; Cotte, M., Application of Synchrotron Radiation-Based Micro-Analysis on Cadmium Yellows in Pablo Picasso's Femme. Microscopy and Microanalysis 2022, 1-10.
MacLennan, D.; Trentelman, K.; Szafran, Y.; Woollett, A. T.; Delaney, J. K.; Janssens, K.; Dik, J., Rembrandt's An Old Man in Military Costume: Combining hyperspectral and MA-XRF imaging to understand how two paintings were painted on a single panel. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 2019, 58 (1-2), 54-68.
MacLennan, D.; Llewellyn, L., Gold leaf in Gentile da Fabriano's paintings. The Burlington Magazine 2019, 161 (1401), 988-995.
Comelli, D.; MacLennan, D.; Ghirardello, M.; Phenix, A.; Schmidt Patterson, C.; Khanjian, H.; Gross, M.; Valentini, G.; Trentelman, K.; Nevin, A., Degradation of Cadmium Yellow Paint: New Evidence from Photoluminescence Studies of Trap States in Picasso’s Femme (Époque des “Demoiselles d’Avignon”). Analytical Chemistry 2019, 91 (5), 3421-3428.
Statement of Intent: I have been passionate about the technical study of works of art since I first entered the field of conservation as a rising third year paintings conservator at the Courtauld Institute of Art. My final year thesis focused on the application of multiband diffuse reflectance imaging spectroscopy paired with point X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to investigate whether we could characterize a now-hidden self portrait of the French painter Georges Seurat in his famous Young Woman Powdering Herself, which was thought to be present based on an X-ray taken in the 1950s. This work was a collaboration with MoLAB as well as curators from the Courtauld Gallery. Our technical examination revealed that Seurat originally included a fully worked self-portrait in the small window in the upper corner of the painting. He painted himself out before the picture it was included in the 1890 Salon. The discovery turned out to have important art historical significance for Seurat scholars as it remains the artist’s sole self-portrait! I mention this study in so much detail because it was pivotal for me in many ways; one of which was that it highlighted the importance of technical examination. Far from just identifying pigments and collecting data sets that take up precious server space, technical studies provides evidence to understand our tangible shared cultural heritage at the macro- and micro-scales, which is not possible with our eyes.
I joined the Getty after leaving the Courtauld and have been involved with many technical studies across a range of media including modern and old master paintings, works on paper, sculpture, furniture, antiquities, and illuminated manuscripts. Before joining the science department at the GCI, I also worked as an assistant paintings conservator and carried out treatment on paintings ranging from the Italian Renaissance to the very end of the 19th century. As a conservator in a science department, I’m comfortable working with my colleagues in both fields. I have a highly collaborative working ethic and would bring my deep dedication both to the mission of AIC as well as my passion for technical studies to the forefront if nominated as assistant program chair.
Bio: Kirsten Travers Moffitt received her M.S. from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) with a specialization in painted surfaces. After graduating in 2011, she joined The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and now serves as Conservator & Materials Analyst. She helped establish the Foundation’s first scientific analysis laboratory, where she works with conservators, curators, and historic interpreters to conduct scientific research for all collection materials. She has a special interest in historic paint and pigments, particularly those used in architectural settings. She helped organize and co-edited the post-prints for the 6th International Architectural Paint Research Conference in 2017, Micro to Macro: Examining Architectural Finishes (Archetype, 2018). This publication includes her paper “Limewashed Island: Architectural Finishes in Early Bermuda”, co-authored with Ed Chappell. Other recent lectures and publications include “Hugh Orr’s Orpiment Hue: Paint Analysis Discoveries at the George Reid House” Traditional Paint Journal (August 2021); “Orpiment in Colonial Williamsburg: Challenges in the Analysis of Yellow Arsenic Sulfides in Historic Housepaints” (Microscopy & Microanalysis 2021 Conference); and “Polarizing Light Microscopy for Pigment Identification: Case Studies in Cultural Heritage Research” (International Academic Projects 2021). She teaches Polarizing Light Microscopy (PLM) and Cross-section Microscopy workshops to first and second-year WUDPAC students. She volunteers as a peer-reviewer for Studies in Conservation and AIC’s Objects Specialty Group post-prints, and is currently a member of the scientific review committee for the forthcoming International Architectural Finishes Research conference in the Netherlands.
Statement of Intent: I have worked in the field of conservation for more than twenty years, and as Conservator and Materials Analyst at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for more than a decade. I am running for the position of Publication Chair for the Research and Technical Studies group because RATS publications have always been an important resource for me, and I want to give back and support the group’s endeavor as Chair, working to disseminate knowledge that inspires new research within our group and the broader heritage science community. If elected, I look forward to serving the continued publication of high-quality research such as conference session post-prints, maintaining and expanding the AIC Wiki’s Research and Analysis sections, and other group resources.
Bio: I am an Assistant Conservation Scientist and inaugural Diana Luv Chen Fellow at Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH). As a part of the Technical Studies Lab at IPCH, I work on material characterization for all of Yale’s collections, including natural history, art, and library objects. After earning bachelor’s degree in chemistry and art history at the University of Maryland-College Park in 2014, I received my PhD in analytical chemistry at the University of Delaware studying copper-based pigments via spectroscopic methods and collaborating with Winterthur Museum. My thesis was supervised by Dr. Karl Booksh, a spectroscopist and chemometrician, and Dr. Jocelyn Alcántara-García, a conservation scientist. I have previously held internships at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute, and the Rijksmuseum. I started at IPCH in 2019 as a Postdoctoral Associate focused on scanning x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and the associated data processing and am now working to integrate XRF scanning results with other spectroscopic analyses (both in situ and sample based). In addition to extensive work with the various collections at Yale, I have been striving to promote best practices and facilitate discussions for the XRF scanning community through shared resources and a recent Bruker M6 MA-XRF User Group Meeting that I helped organize.
Statement of Intent: I am an early career scientist looking to get more involved with the AIC community and have a strong desire to be a contribute to the RATS group. For many years, I have been interested in the intersection of conservation and science, and I am especially invested in efforts to communicate the fascinating links between these two areas to a wide audience. This includes other scientists, conservators, museum professionals, art historians, students, and the public. I have done work with conservation science-based outreach programs for local high school students and have lead discussion sessions at international conferences. I have given both numerous poster and oral presentations at national and international conference, which has kept me active e in the conservation science community. I have also served as a peer-reviewer for several journals, such as Studies in Conservation, Heritage Science, and X-ray Spectroscopy. I recognize the important responsibility of this activity to ensure that research findings are communicated clearly and accurately to both benefit and engage future scholars. Through my recent work as a co-organizer for the first Bruker M6 Jetstream MA-XRF User Group meeting in North America, I saw the need to foster more discussion focused on scientific research in conservation among our peers in North America. I am committed to helping RATS continue to work on filling that need in the conservation community, and I hope to contribute in my capacity as the next Publication Chair.
Bio: Ashley A. Freeman is the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Science at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), where she assists in analyzing the museum's collection that covers a wide variety of materials and historical eras. At LACMA, her main focus of research centers on the characterization of plastic fibers within LACMA's textile collection. In 2021, she completed her Ph.D. at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where she studied the physical behavior of distemper paint from Norwegian stave churches. Prior to that, she was a member of the Managing Collection Environments Initiative at the Getty Conservation Institute, where she focused on the effect of environmental factors on the mechanical and chemical characteristics of museum objects. Ashley holds a MAC in Conservation Science from Queen's University, a study certificate for restoration and conservation from the Lorenzo de' Medici, and an MS in Chemistry from Loyola University Chicago.
Her research interests include the effects of environmental factors on the mechanical and chemical properties of artworks, the application of physical and analytical techniques for long-term monitoring and preventive conservation purposes, and the study of the ageing properties of artists' paint using physical and analytical methods. In addition to her research, Ashley is passionate about sharing her scientific knowledge with the next generation of art conservation professionals. She is dedicated to teaching science to students studying art conservation, as well as mentoring and guiding interns and junior staff to become proficient in the application of physical and analytical techniques in the field.
Statement of Intent: As a passionate cultural heritage professional, I am excited about the opportunity to serve as Secretary/Treasurer of the Research and Technical Studies group. I believe that this position would allow me to give back to the community, expand my knowledge through educational opportunities, and collaborate with other researchers in the field to advance the preservation and conservation of cultural heritage. In this role, I would be able to contribute to the group's mission and goals while also learning from other members and participating in educational activities to enhance my skills and knowledge. I am eager to work closely with the other members of the executive committee to develop and implement strategies that promote the group's objectives and ensure its continued success. Furthermore, I believe that serving in this role would provide me with valuable leadership experience that will benefit me both personally and professionally. I am committed to the field of cultural heritage and to making a positive impact on the preservation and understanding of our shared cultural heritage. I look forward to the possibility of serving as Secretary/Treasurer and working collaboratively with other members to advance the important work of the Research and Technical Studies group.