Chemistry in Art

Location: 
Bismarck State College
City, State: 
Bismarck, ND
Instructor(s): 
Pat Hill (Millersville University), Deb Simon (Whitman College)
Date: 
19 Jul 2015 - 24 Jul 2015

A week-long cCWCS workshop

 

This workshop has been presented 10 times with great success, attracting participants such as science faculty, art faculty, museum curators, conservators and education faculty, coming from 2-year and 4-year colleges, and universities. The broad-ranging workshop provides participants with a perspective on the role of chemistry in diverse fields, crossing academic disciplines, but with strong foundations in inorganic, physical and analytical chemistry. The course is grounded in laboratory experience, and includes field trips to local museums and conservation science labs.

Sunday: Linking Chemistry and Art in the Curriculum. Participants explore and set personal workshop goals while getting an overview of workshop activities and resources available to them. Lecture and lab activities focus on the importance of light and color in the study of art and art materials, as well as the interdisciplinary nature of chemistry and art.

Monday: Colorants and Painting Media. The study of pigments, dyes and paint media includes experiments to synthesize dyes and pigments and then activities to analyze and utilize these coloring agents. Participants will prepare and compare the properties of oil paint, egg tempera, acrylic paint, watercolor, India inks, crayons and pastels. Lectures will explore how artists have used colorants over time, what comprises the materials and structures of paintings, as well as what modern analytical methods can be used to identify pigments and dyes in works of art and artifacts.

Tuesday: Paper, Fibers, and Dyes. Tuesday focuses on the characteristics of paper and other types of polymeric art materials. Participants will make and analyze paper, identify natural and synthetic fibers, and utilize natural and synthetic dyes to dye both natural and synthetic fibers. Lectures will continue to highlight the analytical methods used in paintings analysis, as well as how to seek out and utilize museum resources for teaching.

Wednesday: Teaching Basic Chemistry Through Metalwork, Jewelry, and Sculpture. Lectures focus on the materials of jewelry and sculpture - stone, metal, concrete, clay, glass - as a way to introduce basic chemistry concepts to undergraduates. Laboratory activities include studying the properties of metals, redox reactions of metals, electrochemistry (electrolysis, electroplating, anodizing) and coloring (patination) of metals. A field trip to a local museum and foundry will highlight the day followed by a lecture on the use of optical devices in art.

Thursday: Ancient to Modern Materials. The morning will focus on the chemistry of fresco making, deterioration and restoration, as well as continuing activities utilizing ancient materials of shells, glass and ceramics. In the afternoon, lab activities have participants working with more modern photographic processes such as salted paper prints, cyanotypes, diazo blueprints, and using a camera lucida.
 Several conservation case studies will be presented and participants will be able to work with on-line resources that provide case studies in conservation science such as The Vineland Map and the Feast of the Gods. In the evening, a workshop banquet will be held with a guest speaker who will speak either on an art conservation topic or on the development of travel courses in chemistry and art.

Friday: Wrap-up Day. No chemistry and art workshop would be complete without a presentation and discussion on Fakes and Forgeries. This will be followed by informal presentations where workshop participants will be encouraged to share what they plan to do when they return home. A Workshop Evaluation Form will be completed by each participant prior to departure. The workshop ends at noon on Friday.