Before it was possible to purchase commercially prepared paints and pigments, artists and craftsmen relied on materials found in their environment, like berries, clay, and minerals, to color their art.
“Whoa, how did you make your table look so real?” I heard one student exclaim after taking a peek at his neighbor’s artwork in Mrs. Lang’s sixth-grade classroom at Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus. This question is at the core of the Barnes Foundation’s Art of Looking program, a free outreach program delivered to School District of Philadelphia fifth- and sixth-grade students that focuses on enriching math and science core curricular concepts through the study of art.
As the Senior Conservator of Objects at the Barnes Foundation, I have come to know the three-dimensional objects in the collection fairly well over the five years I have worked here. However, there is always more to learn, and it is rewarding to have an opportunity to work with researchers and scholars who visit the Foundation to study the collection. They often are able to reveal historical information or special aspects of an object about which we were unaware.