Summer Fellows 2012

DELPHI Participants: 2012 Abstracts

Heather Brown
Winterthur-University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC)

“Building Awareness About Photograph Conservation from Abu Dhabi to Wilmington, Delaware”

Photographic materials are present in vast quantities in collections globally—both public and private—and include photograph negatives, black-and-white and color prints, slides, motion-picture film, and digital media. In large archives, handling negatives and motion-picture film made of flammable cellulose nitrate poses a dangerous health and safety threat. In art museums, daguerreotypes, albumen and silver gelatin prints, and contemporary ink jet images are at risk of fading or other irreversible damage during exhibition. In the home environment, improper storage of color photographs and digital files can lead to the loss of generations of memories.  All of these materials contribute to the irreplaceable cultural heritage of a region.


With funding from this fellowship, Brown will research preventive conservation measures in order to create an informational leaflet on how to care for photographic materials. This leaflet will offer basic suggestions for proper environmental conditions, handling, and storage. This information will be translated into Arabic and French and adapted to target those responsible for photographic collections in the Middle East. These basic guidelines will contribute to a continuing initiative to build conservation awareness and assist Middle Eastern museum and library professionals in the preservation of their photographic legacy, thus promoting shared understanding and cultural respect globally.

Kristin deGhetaldi
Paul Coremans Fellow
Preservation Studies Program

“From Egg to Oil: Painting Techniques Employed by Early Italian Artists in the 15th-Century

DeGhetaldi’s research focuses on the adoption of Netherlandish oil painting techniques by artists in Early Renaissance Italy. The use of tempera grassa, mixtures of egg and oil, is of interest as this medium is a direct outcome of such a cultural exchange and has allegedly been discovered in easel paintings by several prominent Italian painters of the fifteenth century such as Carlo Crivelli, Masolino da Panicale, and Giovanni Bellini.  A better understanding of the use of binding media employed by such Quattrocento painters will provide scientists, conservators, and scholars with information that may shed light on workshop practices, attribution, and other topics associated with provenance.  This summer, deGhetaldi will create several paint samples using historically accurate raw materials (i.e. pigments, binding media) that represent varying mixtures of egg and linseed oil, or tempera grassa. She’ll also explore layering techniques that were commonly employed by Italian painters. These samples will then be subjected to artificial aging and a variety of analytical techniques in order to compare various protocols that are currently used to identify proteins and drying oils in historic paint samples.  As it is difficult to describe the different visual properties associated with binding media in words, she will be document her work with photographs that will ultimately be arranged into an online web exhibit complete with useful links and information relating to studies that have confirmed the use of mixed media in Quattrocento paintings.

Nalleli Guillen
Department of History

“For the Tourists’ Gaze and Imagination: Images of San Antonio’s Late Nineteenth-Century Market Culture

In the late nineteenth century, San Antonio was a city looking to make its mark on the American scene. Founded in 1718 as an outpost of the Spanish Empire, this frontier town had intrigued multiple generations of Americans. However, limited transportation options had made it difficult to access for the average traveler. The introduction of the first direct railroad line into San Antonio in 1877 opened the city to a growing stream of tourists. That access, combined with the concurrent rise of inexpensive commercial photography, was instrumental in reshaping San Antonio’s self-perception and national reputation. Contemporary tourist literature emphasized San Antonio’s mild, spring-like winters and rolling landscapes, but the visual narrative created in photographs went beyond this to depict an exotic, historicized Spanish fantasyland.


View of the west side of Military Plaza with market in foreground, San Antonio, Texas. Boudoir photograph by E.K. Sturdevant, ca. 1887. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-24772.*

Guillen will examine the city-story encapsulated in one crucial San Antonio tourist space, the outdoor marketplace on Military Plaza. She will use photographs of that plaza to show the important but often overlooked role of photographs in redefining San Antonio to its own residents and to the larger American public and thus creating the long lasting narrative of San Antonio as an exotic, picturesque fantasy.

Isabelle Havet
Department of Art History

“Unearthing Paris: Nadar’s Subterranean Photographs and the Depiction of the Modern City

During the 1860s, Nadar (1820-1910), one of the first professional photographers, created over one hundred photographs of the sewers and catacombs of Paris. In Paris this summer, Havet will investigate how Nadar’s subterranean photography characterized the modern city, articulating notions of urban space as an unwieldy network of physical and imagined territories in constant flux.

Nadar Catacombs

Nadar, Self-Portrait in the Catacombs, 1861-1862. Albumen print. Bibliothèque nationale, Paris.

Nadar explored and photographed subterranean Paris in the midst of its radical reconstruction, part of a massive urban renewal campaign ordered by Emperor Napoleon III to transform the capital into a cutting-edge metropolis. Nadar depicts the famous, and infamous, sewers of Paris, as they are redesigned into a vast complex of routes and spaces mirroring the spectacular new city surface. Nadar’s catacomb series provides a startling narrative of the renovation of the ossuaries, built during the eighteenth-century to house the remains of over six million Parisians removed from the city’s overflowing cemeteries. Nadar represents the catacombs as a multivalent space: repository of the nation’s historical remnants, including its Gallo-Roman and bloody revolutionary past; site of archaeological and scientific exploration; modern technological marvel; and tourist hotspot.

Ai Hisano
Department of History/Hagley Program

“Eating with Eyes: The Manipulation of Food Color in the Twentieth-Century United States”

People have altered the color of their food across cultures for millennia, enhancing the aesthetics of its presentation as well as reflecting religious beliefs and social status. With the development of industrialized food at the turn of the twentieth century, food coloring also took a new turn. Many food companies manipulated the color in both processed and perishable food to make items look fresh, disguising the food’s deterioration, and distinguishing one brand from others.

Hisano’s research aims to illuminate how the food industry introduced color as a way for consumers to evaluate the purity, freshness, and naturalness of foods and thus to determine what food was acceptable. Research in food science has demonstrated the physiological and psychological influences of color on flavor and taste. Yet scholars have not fully explored food color from cultural or historical perspectives. By analyzing the relations between color and taste in terms of food history, business history, and material culture studies, Hisano’s research offers new approaches to examining the historical construction of cultural knowledge and social relations.

Alison Kreitzer
American Civilization Program
Department of History

“Post-World War II American Dirt Track Automobile Racing

Kreitzer’s research investigates the pastime of automobile racing at oval dirt tracks across the United States. Throughout the twentieth century, American men, women, and children flocked to repurposed oval horse tracks and specially-designed dirt speedways to watch predominately white, male racecar drivers and their mechanics compete to push the boundaries of automobile technology and speed. While men with mechanical expertise maintained exclusive domain over the racetrack and staging area known as the “pits,” spectators actively cheered and jeered the racing action from the grandstands and participated in the rituals surrounding racing events. A study of this dirt track racing subculture presents the opportunity to investigate twentieth-century Americans’ reactions to the spatial and cultural changes brought about by the automobile.

During the fellowship period, Kreitzer will trace the technological innovations and design developments of purpose-built racecars in the decade following World War II. By comparing the design and materials of different types of racecars, she will uncover the consumer markets and networks utilized by racing enthusiasts to construct their racecars, while also compiling narratives of the postwar racing experience. Archival research, oral history interviews, and the material components of auto racing present the opportunity to examine how racing enthusiasts’ conceptualized issues involving race, gender, work ethic, automobility, and technological skill in postwar America.

Chris La Casse
Department of English

“Modernism in the Magazines, Modernism in the Great War: Poetry, the Little Review, and Reveille

La CasseIn his dissertation research, La Casse is examining how three magazines published in the early 20th Century promoted different interpretations of the First World War based on different editorial policies and politics: Reveille(1918-1919), Poetry (1912-present) and theLittle Review (1914-1929). With funding from the fellowship, La Casse will look closely at the strategies by which the Little Review’s co-editors Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap framed the war as nationalist, capitalist, and detrimental to the individual.

Known for its antagonistic tone, the Little Review fostered debate among contributors and readers while setting itself in opposition to the mainstream public and often finding itself on the brink of bankruptcy. La Casse will look at all aspects of the journal in his research, including its physical characteristics as an object and its features as part of an economic system of payments to authors, means of supporting itself, sales and distribution, and the like.

Stephanie Lampkin
Department of History

“Negotiating Freedom and Power on a Changing Borderland: The Intersections of Indigenous and Black Communities in La Florida, 1693-1803

Running through the plantation fields and into the woods, former slaves in the 18th Century began their dangerous, life-threatening journey from British North American colonies to Spanish Florida.  Seeking refuge in Florida, a contested area of rivalry among European colonizers and members of indigenous cultures, these runaway slaves, “Maroons,” attempted to maintain their freedom and rebuild their communities.  Their interactions with indigenous peoples of the southeast led to creative, volatile, strategic, and long-term relationships.  During the fellowship period, Lampkin will continue her research on the complexities of life on a multicultural, dynamic, and negotiable Florida frontier in the 18th Century.

Elizabeth Melanson
Department of Art History

“The Patronage of Modern Art by the Women of Jewish High Society in Paris, 1870-1914

Pink and Blue

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pink and Blue (Alice and Elisabeth Cahen d’Anvers), 1881 (Sao Paulo Museum of Art)

Melanson’s research examines the patronage of modern art by women of Jewish high society in Paris from 1870-1914.   For these patrons modern art was a rallying point, a marker of identity that preserved and refashioned a distinct Jewish sphere; modern art could be understood as the visual language of the Jewish patronage network.

Through an examination of Renoir’s portraits of Jewish sitters in the 1880s, Melanson explores how Jewish patrons constructed their public and private identities through art.  She also looks at how patrons collected and displayed art in their homes in their bid for assimilation and distinction. Their salons became cradles of modernism.  Many homes and collections were bequeathed to the State.

With funding from her fellowship, Melanson will visit two such collections in France, the Musée Camondo and the Château de Champs-sur-Marne. She will analyze not only the collections themselves but also the sites’ architecture and decoration and the biographies of their owners.

Elizabeth Schaeffer

“Saving the Schoolgirl’s Art: The Cleaning of Historic Samplers

In the fall of 2012, the Costume and Textile Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) will exhibit twelve samplers of Scottish origin. These embroideries, meticulously stitched by young women, reveal much about Britain’s social, political, and cultural developments, from the restoration of the British monarchy in the late seventeenth century to the rise of Georgian architecture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

While Scottish samplers are known for their use of myriad stitches and brightly colored threads, the ground fabrics can become severely discolored over time, making it difficult to distinguish and appreciate their embroidered designs. This staining obscures the intent of the original artist by dulling the visual impact of the colorful threads against a now muddied background. Furthermore, stains and soils can be acidic or abrasive, contributing to the degradation of the fabric.

This summer Schaeffer will conduct research at the PMA to identify cleaning techniques that are gentler on these delicate textiles than traditional wet cleaning and will thus will allow the safe cleaning of the samplers for the upcoming exhibit. This will not only improve their appearance and readability, enhancing museumgoers’ understanding and appreciation of these objects, but also ensure their long-term preservation by reducing harmful soils that threaten the stability of the textile.

Kate Swisher
Winterthur Program in American Material Culture

“When Material Worlds Collide: Hull House Reform Work and the Industrial Culture of Chicago’s Immigrant Community”

As part of the settlement movement of the late nineteenth century, social reformer Jane Addams founded Hull House in 1889 to serve struggling immigrants in Chicago’s Nineteenth Ward. Among the many programs offered at the Hull House settlement, Addams established the Labor Museum in 1900 as a space in which first-generation immigrants could demonstrate their various ethnic craft traditions, from spinning, weaving, and needlework to pottery and woodworking. Addams hoped the Museum would show the children of immigrants the hidden talents of their parents, as well as connect workers with the long tradition of handicraft behind their labor in the city’s factories and sweatshops. The Labor Museum’s mission reflected the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement in its praise of preindustrial craft but wisely avoided wholesale condemnation of industrial production. Instead, the Museum strategically framed this celebration of craft in a way that would help immigrants take pride in their work.

But did immigrants actually experience the Labor Museum as middle-class reformers envisioned? Did children grow to respect their parents, and did industrial workers begin to see themselves as participants in an evolving tradition of craftsmanship? To answer these questions, Swisher will study objects from the Labor Museum, now in the collections of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, within the context of working-class and immigrant culture. Her research thus explores the intersection between reform philosophies and immigrants’ relationships with their material surroundings on Chicago’s West Side at the turn of the twentieth century.

Amy Torbert
Department of Art History

“Threatened Fragmentation: The American Colonies in Sayer and Bennett’s Prints and Maps, 1770-1780

In the years leading to the separation of the American colonies from the British Empire, London publishers Robert Sayer and James Bennett issued numerous maps of the North America territories for British military use. They also simultaneously published a series of five caricatural mezzotints – such as the iconic Bostonians Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring and Feathering (1774) – based on reports of acts of American resistance. Although both the maps and mezzotints have been reproduced extensively, their material properties have not been closely examined.

Bostonians Paying the Excise Man

Philip Dawe. Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man, or Tarring and Feathering. Mezzotint. Published by Robert Sayer & James Bennett, London, 1774. Yale University Art Gallery.

Torbert proposes such a reevaluation of Sayer and Bennett’s publications as a way to see afresh the particularities inherent in the fragmentation of the British Empire and the transformations in American and British identity. This study of changing ideologies, identities, and geographies is reinforced by the changing states of the prints’ materials. As pressure mounted during the waning years of the 1770s, the breakdown of the fragile surfaces of the mezzotint plates, in particular, functioned as a metaphor for the breaking away of the American colonies from the British Empire.

Courtney Von Stein (Institute only)

“Protecting Outdoor Sculpture: Maintenance and Outreach

Outdoor sculpture collections present tremendous preservation challenges that are unlike those of other art collections. These collections are generally large in scale and diverse in materials, including everything from bronze statues to LED screens.

By definition, they are regularly exposed to acid rain, high winds, pollutants, and physical damages. Without routine maintenance and monitoring, the environment can quickly re-claim the sculptures, leaving behind rusted metals, corroded stone, or oxidized elements in unrecognizable forms. I will spend my summer working with the Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, Ohio) to research, assess, and implement preservation strategies for several of the museum’s outdoor sculptures. This research and treatment implementation will increase my own understanding of material degradation and will address the immediate maintenance needs of the collection. In addition, I plan to devote significant time and energy to public outreach using both digital media and public programming. The preservation of outdoor sculpture collections is reliant upon mutual understanding and respect and can only be aided by an educated and enthusiastic public.