On February 7, Honors College student Elizabeth Haughey presented her research and conservation project on a Saltillo sarape blanket at Springfield’s Art Walk. This project was part of ART 488: Introduction to the Conservation of Art and Artifacts and asked students to not only conserve a community partner’s artifact, but also to research the artifact to give the community a better understanding of its history.
I was particularly excited to be working with this artifact because the research allowed me to learn more about modern and ancient culture and textile production in Northern Mexico and the American Southwest. It also allowed me to gain hands-on experience in preserving the sarape textile.
In order to conserve the sarape, Elizabeth brushed out the dust and dirt and removed pet hair. She then cleaned stains without damaging the sarape by testing for color-fastness. To stabilize the holes and fringe, she sewed the sarape to muslin backing with invisible thread. The entire project took her over 50 hours of work.
Elizabeth has displayed her work in the “Learning Through Practice” Art Exhibition at Missouri State University, in an article published in Missouri State’s undergraduate journal LOGOS, presented a poster at the Missouri Archaeological Society Spring Conference, and presented her original paper at the annual Intercollegiate Art History Symposium in addition to her Art Walk presentation.
Artifact conservation is not just important for big museums and institutions; anyone who has an artifact in their home can benefit from being aware of artifact conservation. Even a few simple tips such as keeping art and artifacts away from dust and excessive moisture or light can help everyone protect their artifacts, and through this, protect and preserve the cultures that produced them. Promoting cultural awareness is very important, and a great way to do that is to preserve art and artifacts and to display them with information about the objects themselves, the materials and methods used to produce them, and the cultures from where the artifacts originated.
Elizabeth is a senior currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree with an individualized major combining Anthropology, Spanish, Latin American studies, and Art History.