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Art Con Alumna Now Teaching Paper Conservation

Art Con Alumna Now Teaching Paper Conservation

Posted: August 23, 2016

When Theresa Smith, ’06, was pursuing her graduate degree in art conservation at Buffalo State, she had a secret wish to teach in the department one day. A decade later, her wish has come true.

Smith was recently hired as the department’s new faculty specialist in paper conservation, taking the spot vacated by professor Judith Walsh who retired in May after teaching at Buffalo State for 11 years.

“Judy and I are Facebook friends and when I learned she was retiring, I knew it was the right time to apply for the position,” Smith said.

Smith comes to Buffalo State from Harvard Library’s Weissman Preservation Center where she worked for nine years. She was primarily responsible for the conservation of rare and special collection materials and also trained and supervised interns and technicians on individual projects.

Coming to Buffalo State, Smith said, will allow her to have a bigger impact on the profession.

“Within conservation, you are always teaching—explaining, demonstrating techniques and new procedures to others. It’s not a field where you learn for two or three years in a graduate program and you’re done. It’s a lifelong process of learning.”

Why the paper conservation specialty?

“I always saw myself as an artist growing up—drawing, making collages, and printmaking,” said Smith who double-majored in art history and studio art as an undergraduate at Oberlin College. “Then I became interested in book history and thought I might go into book binding or book conservation. When I found out I could conserve art as well, I was very excited.”

Smith said she hopes to impart to her new students that the skills required for paper, book, and photograph conservation can be applied to any conservation situation.

“Whether students end up working in a historical society, museum, or library/archive, it’s the same set of skills,” she said. “You’re just using them in a different context.”

“We are all excited that Theresa has joined the department,” said Patrick Ravines, director and associate professor of art conservation. “I am confident she will impart her expertise and wisdom to all her students and to the profession.”

Smith also is excited to be here.

“I know the students are motivated and energized, just as I was when I went through the program,” she said. “They are like sponges soaking up knowledge.”

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