Biography

I am an art conservator and a professor with a background in archaeological, sculpture, and time-based media conservation. I am currently a Professor of Art History and a Professor of Conservation of Material Culture at UCLA. I am also the Chair of the UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials.

Until recently I was on faculty in the Museum Studies Program at New York University where I taught seminars on the conservation of museum collections and managing contemporary art in museums. These courses allowed me to work with graduate students across the university to analyze social, legal, and material dynamics of acquiring and managing contemporary art. We engaged in contemporary debates around intellectual property and copyright, the notion of authorship, and various conceptual frameworks such as object biographies, intentionality, and authenticity. We often conducted student-led interviews with artists in New York collections and work with artists to create information resources from their archives.

From 2007-2013, I served as Time-Based Media Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), where I cared for the video, performance, and electronic collections. My major projects at MoMA were to document media works for future exhibition and conservation, re-format them to keep them operable on new technologies, and organize a repository for the digital collections. This frequently involved interviewing the artists to learn about their technical production and how they want their work conserved and displayed. With colleagues from MoMA, Tate, San Francisco Museum of Art, and New Art Trust, I served on the Matters in Media Art project to establish guidelines for managing time-based media in museums.

In 2008 I established a 501(c)-3 non-profit corporation, the Voices in Contemporary Art (VoCA). I served as founding executive director, and I am now an emeritus board member.

In 2015 with colleagues at NYU I established the Artist Archives Initiative. We just created an information resource for the artist David Wojnarowicz, and are now launching a similar resource for Joan Jonas.

My current book project with the Getty Conservation Institute has a provisional title, Beyond Materiality: Issues in the Conservation of Contemporary Art. My recent publications address the concerns of documenting and managing contemporary art in museums. I published a book in 2012 with the University of Hawai’i Press, titled The Painted King: Art, Authenticity, and Activism in Hawai’i.  In this book I present a case for doing cultural work through conservation, using the community-based conservation of a sculpture of King Kamehameha I as a case study.