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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
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Virtual/Material: Color and Pigment Graduate Workshop

multi paint swirl

The current requirement that art historians rely more or less exclusively on virtual platforms and digital resources for their research and teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic has made plainer the need for scholars to understand the relationship between works of art as material objects and as data. The evidentiary status of digital representations of works of art is a question that has become as pressing for students and scholars of art history as it has long been for conservators and conservation scientists, imaging professionals, data scientists, and information specialists. Processes of translation from the material into data and vice-versa are poorly understood by most art historians, potentially jeopardizing the validity of research questions and findings. This predicament is especially conspicuous in the realm of color – a property of artworks that is often misunderstood or marginalized.

Funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, this workshop will offer an integrated curriculum of Technical and Digital Art History via the special case history of color. The workshop will take place virtually from August 9–13, 2021. Through a combination of seminars, demonstrations, and labs led by a distinguished faculty of scientists and historians, participants will leave the workshop better equipped to understand historical colorants and their production as well as the ways in which digital cultures can distort or ameliorate historians’ approach to such colorants.

Participants include: Tara Contractor (Yale University), Caroline Culp (Stanford University), Louise Deglin (University of California, Los Angeles), Joslyn DeVinney (Columbia University), Ryan Eisenman (University of Pennsylvania), Adela Foo (Yale University), Ana Howie (University of Cambridge), Rachel Hutcheson (Columbia University), Cindy Kok (Yale University), Joseph Litts (Princeton University), Sharifa Lookman (Princeton University), Cambra Sklarz (University of California, Riverside), Holli Turner, (Penn State University), Margot Yale (University of Southern California).

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Sarah K. Rich Associate Professor of Art History, Director of the Center for Virtual/ Material Studies Learn More

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Penn State Collaborators

External Collaborators

  • Susan Farnand, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Carolyn L. Kane, Ryerson University
  • Hannelore Roemich, Institute of Fine Arts
  • Pamela H. Smith, Columbia University
  • Tracy Stuber, Getty Research Institute)