Black Family of Man


ArtistAlan Purcell
MediaPainted Wood
Dimensions21", 25", 20"
LocationCleveland Public Library - Glenville Branch

"Black Family of Man" was created by Alan Purcell, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. The four wooden heads—carved from trees in Cleveland's Flats District—depict a father, mother, daughter, and son. Natural aging had caused cracks to appear, which had previously been filled with materials that did not blend with the existing color of the wood. Some of these fill materials were separating, crumbling, and being squeezed out of their original placements in addition to recent gaps between the fill material and the original wood.


ICA surface cleaned the carvings and addressed the gaps and shrinkage cracks. The intact, stable fill material inside the cracks was left alone and crumbling fill material was removed. Sanding and reshaping were required to make the fills conform to the shape of the original sculptures. Inert foam backing rods were inserted inside larger cracks, covered with a new fill material, and sanded smooth to prepare for inpainting with acrylic paints. Finally, the surfaces of all four sculptures were cleaned with cosmetic sponges and a mild enzymatic solution.

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