In 2016, Bruno Pouliot and Jill Sterrett embarked on journey to expand the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC)’s curriculum in Contemporary Art Conservation education with the support of the SFMOMA. Four years later the collaboration continues to complement WUDPAC’s course design, but has evolved to include both VoCA and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (RRF). The inclusion of RRF enriches the project’s goals by acting as a pilot partner for creating deeper engagement between conservation students, curators, preparators, artist-endowed foundations, and artists. Rauschenberg blurred the lines between materials and genres, appropriately mirroring the blurring definitions of specialties and roles within Contemporary Art Conservation, making his work valuable to study as an early career conservator interested in Contemporary Art Conservation practices.

My involvement in this partnership began in August 2018. From August 2018-May 2019, I completed remote research to analytically heurisically evaluate select metal paintings series. In June 2019-August 2019, I worked on-site at the Foundation to follow-through with the research I had begun remotely, organize and participate in a Study Day event, research documentation practices of Contemporary Art Conservation, and participate in cross-disciplinary team-based activities such as catalogue raisonne research.

My primary supervisors were Michelle Barger, Head of Conservation, SFMOMA and Jill Sterrett, VoCA Board President and Interim Director, Smart Museum.

Others participants, mentors, and colleagues include: VoCA: Lauren Shadford, VoCA Executive Director, Margaret Graham, Program & Communications Manager, Jennifer Hickey, VoCA Board Member, Paintings Conservator, Hirschhorn; RRF: Julia Blaut, Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs; Thomas Roach, Head of Art Services; Francine Snyder, Director of Archives and Scholarship; WUDPAC: Dr. Joelle Wickens, Preventive Conservator and WUDPAC Associate Director, Lauren Fair, Objects Conservator and Affiliated Assistant Professor at WUDPAC, Dr. Rosie Grayburn, Associate Scientist at SRAL and Affiliated Assistant Professor at WUDPAC, Matthew Cushman, Paintings Conservator and Affiliated Assistant Professor at WUDPAC.

Participants gathering at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Jill Sterrett, Jennifer Myers, and I during an art-filled day in Manhattan.
Natalya Swanson