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Kelsey Hanson – “Technologies of Capturing Color: Paint Practice and its Analysis in the U.S. Southwest”

October 19, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST (Arizona)

Examples of red archaeological paint cakes with Munsell color chart sheets

This lecture will be presented via Zoom. This event is open to the public but you must pre-register.


The American Southwest is brilliantly colored. However, naturally occurring colors are not easily imparted into the material world. The ability to capture color from the natural world through paint requires deep cultural knowledge of geologic sources, processing requirements, and application techniques that remain severely understudied. In this lecture, I will contextualize paint practice as a technology. The production of paint is a sequence of combining colorants and binders—the recipes for which are remarkably diverse. Few have ventured to investigate the diversity of paint recipes and processing techniques represented by this important material class. The Arizona State Museum (ASM) boasts an extensive collection of over 500 objects reflecting different stages of the paint production process from raw pigment to semi-prepared paint cakes. I will then discuss the initial stages of a multi-year project to analyze the diversity of paint recipes manifest in prepared paint cakes in ASM collections and its implication for studies of craft specialization and identity manifest in multimedia paint practices in the U.S. Southwest. Preliminary results of complementary analyses (i.e., optical microscopy, XRF, FTIR, and Raman spectroscopy) will be presented, the results of which will begin to shed light on spatial, temporal, and technological diversity of approaches to capturing color.


Speaker Kelsey Hanson is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. She is an anthropological archaeologist with broad interests in craft specialization, identity, performance, and religious practice. Ms. Hanson is currently engaging with these topics through the study of paint practice, drawing from disciplinary intersections among archaeology, ethnography, and conservation sciences to construct social histories of color production.


October 19, 2020
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST
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