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Chemistry of Art is Focus of Bookend Lecture

(Posted December 3, 2001)

HUNTINGDON, Pa -- Richard Hark, associate professor of chemistry at Juniata College, will talk about the principles and practices of chemistry involved in the restoration and study of artworks in the Bookend Seminar lecture "Chemistry and Art" at 4:30 p.m., Dec. 12 in 202 Good Hall on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Bookend Seminar series features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Hark will talk about how chemistry and art are intertwined, both by the chemical properties and composition of artists materials, and by the methods scientists and art restorers use to analyze paintings.

Hark will discuss how chemical processes were used to restore such masterpieces as the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo, "Feast of the Gods," by Jacopo Bellini and "Perseus," by Benvenuto Cellini. He also will talk about how chemistry was used to determine the authenticity of art and artifacts, including several forgeries of works by the artist Jan Vermeer and the Shroud of Turin.

Hark's expertise also extends to forensic science. He designed nihydrin analogs as reagents for visualizing latent fingerprints on porous surfaces. His work in developing new reagents for latent fingerprints has been recognized by the United State Secret Service, the London Metropolitan Police Laboratory in London, England and Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

He came to Juniata in 2001 from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, where he was assistant professor of chemistry from 1993 to 2000. He was promoted to associate professor at Marietta in 2000.

Hark earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., in 1984. He went on to earn a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.