ACerS launches 'New' Art, Archaeology and Conservation Science Division | The American Ceramic Society

ACerS launches ‘New’ Art, Archaeology and Conservation Science Division

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(Updated) What do cutting edge materials research and the investigation of ancient ceramic pots have in common? More than you would probably think, and the connections are the basis of a “new” division of The American Ceramic Society.

For example, Marc Walton, an ACerS member and a conservation scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute (which operates under the Getty Trust) in Los Angeles, recently collaborated with staff from the Aerospace Corporation and the DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University to investigate the ancient technology used to create a pottery vessel decorated with red and black figures produced in ancient Greece that dates from the 6th to the 4th centuries B.C. Walton and the other collaborators employed an arsenal of advanced X-ray spectrographic techniques to gain a deeper knowledge of iron-spinel chemistry in the vessel, and insights into the how and when it was produced—and possibly who produced it.

The type of work Walton is involved in part of the basis for the revitalization and renaming of ACerS’ former Arts Division. The retitled group-now called the Art, Archaeology and Conservation Science Division (AACS)-was approved by the Society’s Board of Directors in January, which also approved an acting set of officers.

As Katherine Faber, the Walter P. Murphy professor in materials science and engineering at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, explains above, the new division has to do with the numerous intersection points between art and materials science.

The AACS Division has a dedicated webpage and its own set of initial leaders who have stepped forward to help with planning and programming for the new division. Lynnette Madsen, director of the National Science Foundation’s ceramics programs, is serving as chair and Glenn Gates, from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Md., is the AACS’ new secretary. The aforementioned Walton is the division’s new vice chair. Gates and Walton are conservation scientists whose background brings an important perspective to the Division. Faber is the AACS’ trustee, and as such will serve as the link between the Division and the Society’s Board of Directors.

According to Faber, AACS looks to do programming at future meetings, and says the annual MS&T meetings could be a likely venue for sessions or symposia because there is complimentary work going on in within other materials societies, such as investigations into archeological metals.

Here is what has been established as the “vision and mission” of the new division:

  • Advance the scientific understanding of the materials found in ceramic and glass art,
  • Provide information that aids in the interpretation and preservation of ceramic and glass art and artifacts,
  • Better appreciate the artistic side of ceramics, and work cooperatively with others in the field (historians, archaeologists, curators, conservation scientists),
  • Attract and train the future workforce in this area,
  • Reconstruct older ceramic technologies, and improve the press and public’s understanding of ceramics, both artistic and industrial,
  • Meet at least annually to discuss members’ interests, skills, ideas, etc., and explore hosting occasional tutorials on relevant topics.

For more information about the division, contact one of the AACS officers or Marcia Stout in the ACerS headquarters.

(Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Marc Walton’s affiliation as being with Getty Research Institute.)