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Monday, May 16 • 11:00am - 11:30am
(Paintings) Reconciling the Past through the Conservation of the Fresco Mural Painting: “Haitian Massacre, 1937”, by Dominican artists José Ramírez Conde and Roberto Flores

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The mural “Haitian Massacre, 1937” that will be revealed to the public at the Memorial Museum of the Dominican Resistance (MMRD) depicts a scene from the brutal event that took place between the bordering nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic during Rafael L. Trujillo’s regime (1930 -1961). This mural conservation project of compelling historical significance brings together the conservation of a rare depiction of the sad history of the massacre, the introduction of an emergency disaster recovery project, the public awareness of the horrors committed during the regime, as well as the preservation of one of the few fresco murals of the country. Renowned Dominican artists José Ramírez Conde and Roberto Flores painted the fresco in a concrete wall in a private home in the suburbs of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The mural is a tribute to the Haitian men, women and children, living in the northwestern Dominican borderlands, hunted and killed by Trujillo’s soldiers in 1937. As this house was being demolished in 2014, neighbor Cristian Martínez Villanueva saved the fresco from demolition on behalf of the MMRD by directing a rescue operation in which the wall was cut away from the house, braced with steel beams, and transported to Mr. Martínez’s home driveway, where it now sits covered with a plastic tarp, awaiting to be moved to the Museum. The artwork is in poor condition, due to damage suffered during this operation, evident in the losses and delamination of the fresco mortar. Thanks to an award by The U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation a project is underway to preserve it. Hilda Abreu Utermohlen, Paintings Conservator from the Dominican Republic, is the project conservator, and Viviana Dominguez, Mural Conservator from the U.S. is the leading conservator of this project. Mrs. Utermohlen brings 27 years of experience on the conservation of painting and has deep knowledge on the Dominican Republic art history. Ms Dominguez has 28 years of experience on the conservation of mural paintings and good understanding of Haitian culture. In the spirit of fruitful bilateral collaboration and understanding between the Dominican Republic and Haiti the conservators have put together a team of experts from the both nations, to work on the treatment of the mural, including Joseph Fils  Racine, from Haiti, who was trained with Dominguez on the rescue of mural paintings from a cathedral damaged in the 2010-devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince, as part of the Smithsonian Institution Cultural Recovery Program. A team of architects and engineers is working on the transportation and installation of the mural. The authors will describe the conservation plan of this important cultural asset, the treatment protocol, the transportation of the wall to the new location and its complex installation at the museum in downtown Santo Domingo. It is hoped that the conserved mural will be a powerful interpretive tool to reflect on human rights and to foster the advancement of relations between Dominican Republic and Haiti.

avatar for Viviana Dominguez

Viviana Dominguez

Chief Conservator, Art Conservators Lab, LLC
Viviana Dominguez is a specialist in conservation of large-scale works of art on public places wall paintings and easel paintings. She has worked in the field since 1983, preserving national monuments internationally. She has broad experienced on a large variety of materials and paint... Read More →
avatar for Hilda Abreu Utermohlen-[Fellow]

Hilda Abreu Utermohlen-[Fellow]

Executive Director, Hilab
Hilda is founder and Executive Director of Hilab, a private art conservation firm in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She has 28 years of experience working in the treatment of paintings and a wide range of art conservation services and consultations in her country and the Caribbean... Read More →

Monday May 16, 2016 11:00am - 11:30am EDT
Room 710 A