Art conservation technician Elizabeth A. Kovich '05 did not intend on studying art — in fact, far from it. She began her schooling as an engineering major at Penn State, but after taking an art history course her junior year, switched her major, school, and career path. Now, she restores oil paintings at The Barnes Foundation, working with conservators, research scientists, chemists, and engineers to preserve artwork for future generations.
Kovich shared her story with students at Agnes Irwin on Thursday, April 21, as part of the Alumnae Luncheon Series, a collaboration between the Alumnae Office and the Business Leadership Club that seeks to introduce students to Agnes Irwin graduates in a variety of career fields.
The major components of art conservation are examination, documentation, treatment, preventative care, research and education, and each utilize skills across a variety of disciplines, according to Kovich. While an art background is vital to her work, Kovich said her minors in chemistry and mathematics are equally essential. She credits art teacher Keri Farrow for introducing her to a love of art in Middle School, and added that the photography courses she took in Upper School laid the foundation for daily work in documenting the restoration process.
She shared with students how scientific instrumentation, such as X-rays, are important tools for restoration and art history work, and can reveal how paintings have been adapted over time.
“For centuries it was an apprentice-trained field,” Kovich said. Now with the introduction of more technological advances, “you need to have a pretty steady background in chemistry. We say that conservation really is a profession that’s a three legged stool: fine arts, science, art history.” The Villanova alumna majored in Art & Art History, and minored in chemistry, math and studio art.