"Will Work for Art" is a new series of blog posts that will take you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums possible. Our inaugural staff member is Debra Evans, head of paper conservation. Originally from Hawaii, she has been at the museums for 28 years.
What do you do here at the Museums?
I’m in charge of preservation and conservation for close to 100,000 prints, drawings, photographs and books.
How did you become involved with the Museums?
I came here in 1980 for a year-long internship in the paper lab, the last year in a three-year graduate program in art conservation administered by the University of Delaware and Winterthur Museum.
What is your favorite artwork or gallery in the Museums and why?
A strange book by Charles Carrick entitled Flights of Fancy. It’s one of the hidden treasures of the Museums’ collection of works on paper. We don't know much about it except that it was made in England between the years 1842 and 1877 by a little known poet. It has 159 pages of drawings—all different and surprisingly surreal and abstract for their time. It’s a book exhibiting an intense obsession and, indeed, its text tells us that it was inspired by unrequited love!
Charles Carrick, English, active 19th century
Flights of Fancy or Imaginary Scraps, ca. 1842–1877
Book with 216 unnumbered pages of drawings, including 42 blank pages
Museum purchase, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Endowment Fund and Dora D. Ide Fund
What are you working on right now?
In a brief lull between exhibitions, I’m working on improving the housing of our fabulous collection of 19th-century cased photographs—mostly daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in exquisite little cases.
What do you do when you’re not at the Museums?
I’m a rabid Scrabble player and I’ve been making wax resist-dyed eggs for over thirty years.
Do you remember the first time you visited the Museums?
I was ten years old and I don’t remember the art but I do remember the beatniks we saw that day.