43rd Annual Meeting- EMG + OSG Session, May 15, "The Butterfly Effect: A Case Study on the Value of Artist Collaboration in the Conservation of Ephemeral Material" by Christa Pack, Tasha Ostrander, and Mina Thompson

Christa Pack presented a beautiful collaboration that took place at the New Mexico Museum of Art between staff conservator Mina Thompson, herself, and the artist Tasha Ostrander. The artwork Seventy-Three in a Moment was acquired recently by the museum after it had been displayed outdoors on a portico. The conservation work was also mentioned in an article published in “Ongoing” a Santa Fe New Mexican paper.
Christa started out with documentation on the materials and working method- the work is a butterfly mandala with a butterly representing each day in the life of a 73 year-old, the average life span of a person in 1996, the year the work was made. Tasha became involved in the process and eventually made additional butterflies- photocopies that were individually cut out- to add to the work. At a point in the conservation process they realized that Tasha should make the replacement butterflies and work on the integration- there weren’t enough of the detached butterflies and although many were numbered, there was no obvious logical sequence.
In this process they moved away from the YES! paste used by the artist and instead chose Aquazol. Christa spoke about the value of the artist’s voice and participation in restoration of the conceptual components. The process required mutual trust and respect. Christa ended with a nice video of the artist telling in her own words about the project… I’m paraphrasing… when Tasha saw the work in the lab, she was sad, but also thrilled to have some control over the piece since it was sold. She felt like the process was bringing the work back to life; re-entering into the past.
What surprised Tasha about conservation? The artistry, patience, pain-staking, get the job done, whatever it takes, discovery, and courage
A great collaboration that saw a new relationship and friendship emerge.