What IS FAIC Exactly?
You may have read about FAIC grants and scholarships that have been awarded, upcoming professional development offerings, publications, and other initiatives, but you may still have questions about what exactly FAIC does and what makes it different from AIC. We want to share with you the ways FAIC is working to advance the field of conservation, both nationally and abroad.
Here, we’re highlighting a Heather Brown, a recipient of the George Stout scholarship award, one of the many ways our donors support emerging conservators. We have so much to share, and you can learn more at www.conservation-us.org/foundation.
We hope that you enjoy our updates and welcome feedback from you!
The Foundation Team
(Eryl, Eric, and Abigail)
Meet Heather Brown, Graduate Fellow in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, and George Stout Memorial Scholarship Award Recipient!
Heather attended the AIC-PMG/ICOM-CC-PMWG Photographs Conservation Joint Meeting
in Wellington, New Zealand, where she presented a paper titled
“Extending Our Reach: Effective Methods for Engaging Allied and Public Audiences with Photograph Preservation.”
How did you first get involved in conservation? What made you decide to pursue this career path?
As I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in art history, I became interested in the educational mission of museums, so I applied to a one-year MA course on the History and Theory of the Art Museum at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. When I was accepted into the program, I knew that the Courtauld had an excellent reputation as a leading institute for art history and painting conservation; however, outside of a few mentions of the conservator as scientist during my undergraduate lectures, I did not truly know what conservation was. That was until the end of my first term, during a three-week concentration on the history of conservation. My class took a field trip to visit the labs at Tate Britain, and I was immediately fascinated. What I learned that day was that conservation is not just a science, but the three-legged stool of science, material culture, and fine art—all things that I am passionate about. I followed my instinct that told me a career in conservation was the perfect fit and, six years later, here I am in a graduate program.
How did this conference benefit you as an emerging professional?
Attending the AIC-PMG/ICOM-CC-PMWG Photographs Conservation Joint Meeting was an incredible opportunity for my professional development. With over 150 delegates from 18 countries, the greatest benefit of the meeting was the chance to connect with so many conservators in my specialty. I was able to meet many individuals that I have admired, and network with professionals from all over the world. I enjoyed spending time with fellow conservation students and previous employers, but also took advantage of the experience to make new friends with people that will likely be colleagues throughout my career.
Not surprisingly, many of the meeting attendees also presented in some way. I think this demonstrates that conservation is field eager to collaborate and share our knowledge with other members of the community. The talks were very well researched and presented, as were the posters, and ranged from traditional to contemporary media, and from scientific analysis to treatment and theory. I believe I learned the most from the workshops on Emergency Management and Contemporary Photography because they related directly to my interests and what I have been studying in my work at UD, but what made the Wellington meeting unique was the infusion of Maori culture into each event. Through their blessings, narratives, and handling of objects, it was clear how much the locals respect their heritage. My favorite Maori proverb from the closing of the meeting highlighted the conservator’s role as teacher: “With your full basket and my full basket, together we feed the people.”
Leaving New Zealand at the end of the meeting, I felt motivated to continue with my own research, and inspired to think creatively about my in-progress treatment projects. I hope to participate in many more meetings in the future, and I know that I will look back and appreciate having had the opportunity to make it to Wellington in 2013.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating to the George Stout Memorial Fund?
Whether you are an emerging conservator or a Fellow of AIC, attending meetings is an important aspect of professional development. Unfortunately it is not always possible for students to afford the expense as many have significant student loan and other debt incurred during years of preparation for graduate study. The George Stout Memorial Fund allows recent graduates and students, like myself, to take advantage of valuable educational opportunities that will shape our approach to conservation in the future. Your financial support really does make a difference. If you are thinking about donating to the Stout Fund, please consider how your own positive experiences as a student have affected your career. I encourage you to help!