Art History awarded grant to support research workshop

Profile shot of an art historian examining a portrait with an electronic scanning device.
The Department of Art History has received a $20,000 grant from the Kress Foundation in support of a week-long graduate workshop that combines technical analysis, color science and art history. The first-of-its-kind workshop at Penn State, scheduled to be held in summer of 2021, is open to Ph.D. candidates from the United States and abroad and will provide an integrated introduction to the history and science of color. The program will combine seminars with hands-on sessions so participants can understand the chemistry of pigments, the science of color perception, the technologies of color reproduction and imaging and the cultural history of color in art. The concept for the workshop arose out of a symposium held at Penn State in the fall of 2018, “Bugs, Boulders, Beakers: The Materiality of Artists’ Colors,” which was convened by art history Professors Sarah Rich and Daniel Zolli. The event brought to light both the widespread interest in the topic and the relative lack of attention that graduate programs in art history give to the technical and scientific aspects of artists’ materials, according to Elizabeth Mansfield, professor and head of the Department of Art History. Following the symposium, the Department of Art History recognized that Penn State would be an ideal institution to host a graduate workshop that sought to synthesize humanistic and scientific methods, leading to the submission of the grant proposal. “This grant from the Kress Foundation will enable the Department of Art History to share its expertise in the history of artists’ materials with an audience beyond Penn State,” Mansfield said. The workshop will be led by Rich, whose research focuses on modern painting and the history of artists’ materials. Rich will be collaborating with visiting specialists in conservation and conservation science along with colleagues in materials science at Penn State to offer an integrated exploration of color and pigment. “The Kress-funded workshop will bring science and technology together with art history, which is a perfect combination for Penn State,” Mansfield said. “We think this is the start of an exciting new direction for art history, where artists’ materials and workshop practices are a distinct focus of study and research.” The Department of Art History will release more details and workshop application information in October.

Schools and Departments: Department of Art History
Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Art History, Master of Arts in Art History, Ph.D. in Art History, Art History Minor