June 22, 2019

Art and Science

Chemistry and art history students learned to appreciate the overlap of art and science when they collaborated on projects that focused on the Wright Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

Chemistry major Sarah Farr’19 took her turn shooting a handheld X-Ray fluorescence analyzer at Venus at the Forge of Vulcan, an 18th century Dutch oil painting, part of the Wright Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The tool measures metal concentration, which provides information about a painting’s age through pigment composition.

Farr was enrolled in an Instrumental Analysis of Art and Artifacts class, taught by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kristin Labby, which collaborated with Italian Renaissance Painting, a class taught by Assistant Professor of Art History David Boffa. Students learned to appreciate the overlap of art and science when the classes worked together on multiple activities, such as making paint from scratch using pigment and binders. The metal analysis activity had students researching the painting’s history to generate research questions and identify areas of the painting to analyze before they started using the handheld XRF instrument.

“While we, fortunately, did not reveal any major fakes or forgeries within the collection, we gathered valuable information that mostly confirms the attributions of the paintings we analyzed,” says Labby.

Also In This Issue

  • Expat music industry alumna Rebecca Lammers’07 is working to change one of the little-known drawbacks of living and working abroad.

    Paying Taxes, Times Two

  • Inside the Powerhouse auditorium as it takes shape in the spring of 2019.

    Powerhouse Goes from Vision to Reality

  • Natasha Islam, a Beloit College sophomore, stood quietly all evening in Moore Lounge on March 27. Her sign lists the names of Iraqis killed in Baghdad in 2007 by Blackwater guards.

    The Controversial Speech That Never Happened


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