For the Love of Art: a Sonoran Journey
- Carolyn Nelson has recently
returned from another trip to Sonora, Mexico,
- where for the past three years, she has been restoring
- paintings for the Regional Museum, at the Univeristy
of Sonora, in
- Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. There are four that she has
been working with,
- three of which were painted and attributed to the painter
Narchoit, who was
- a young French adventurer during the Maximillian Campaine.
He was pardoned
- by General Ignacio Presquiera, who thought Narchoit was
far too young to
- die, at the end of the French/Mexican War in the year
of 1862. The paintings
- are from this time period.
- When Carolyn went to the Museum at the request of the
curator, Mr. Leo
- Sandoval, she noticed the condition of the paintings.
Advising Mr. Sandoval
- at the time that the paintings appeared quite important,
she asked why were
- they so badly damaged, and displayed damaged, and torn.
- told her that there was no one there that knew how to
repair these paintngs.
- She then took a closer inspection, and when Mr. Sandoval
asked if she knew
- how to do the repair, she said yes.
- The next day, she was invited to come to the museum and
work on the paintings.
- This was in the fall of 1993, and she went back down
to Hermosillo in
- January of 1994, where she started in on "El Nino
del los Borrago". While
- working on this painting, she was interviewed, and tested
on her abilities
- by INAH, which is the National Institute of Anthropology
and History for the
- country of Mexico, by their regional staff. Upon the
completion of their
- exam, she was granted permission by the government, through
INAH, to work on
- the artifacts. She is one of the few Americans that have
permission to work
- on the artifacts of Mexico.
- Here are notes from Carolyn's journal.
- It has been a difficult project,
because so many things that an art
- conservationist needs to have as equipment is not available
there. I mix my own emulsions, and many times it is hard to even find the
right forms of turpentine, or lineseed oil. One time I ordered some lineseed
oil, and got back a large bottle of dark brown liquid that was of no use
at all. There is no access to a hot table for lining the paintings, so
I have to use a lot of imagination to come up with enough weight to press
out the new liners.
- The liners were important to put on the paintings, as
this gives them reinforcement. I would make my own glue, using beeswax
as a base. This had to be heated, and there wasn't any access to any kitchen,
so I had to either borrow a hot plate from friends, or make a trip to Tucson,
Arizona to get one. My space there is actually sharing an office with the
curator, and it
- is pretty much that of a store room.
- The lighting is rather poor, and I have to bring in extra
lamps. To weight
- down the paintings, I am using whatever I can find in
- that includes cannon balls, muskets, rifles, old clocks
and typewriters, books,
- whatever...on top of sheets of plexiglass. This tower
is utilitzed once I have
- taken an iron to the back and applied the liner.
- I will work and manipulate the painting, without making
changes, in order
- to get it to work. Sometimes extra weight, and more pressing
- INAH ran an inspection on the completition of "El
Nino del los Borrago"
- and exclaimed, "Perfecto" after inspecting
the area of which there was a
- large tear. This area is from the corner of the right
eye to the hip.
- There were also many other tears and holes. The painting,
before it became
- part of the museum collection, was found next to a dumpster.
- now is displayed in the main salon of the museum.
- I am currently working on another Narchoit, that is part
of the museum's
- collection. This one has taken many months so far, as
it was completely off
- the stretchers for a period of almost 40 years. You can
see me cleaning the
- back of this one. I will be returning in the fall to
continue the work.
- As the summer months in the desert area for which Hermosillo
is, is far too
- hot at this time.
- The project to complete these paintings has taken now
three years, and will
- continue. I am receiving very little in the way of money
for this project.
- The main focus is returning the culture back to the people
that live there
- and restoring their history. In 1994, my stay there was
extended to include
- a commission by a private client that supported my efforts
at that time.
- The client was the great grandson of General Ignacio
Presquiera, to which I
- give thanks, and indeed indebted to.
- While in the states, I continue to work on commissions
- in fine art, as well as paint and weave.
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