The Santa Barbara Museum of Art Women’s Board thanks all who
participated in our fundraising series - Art a la carte

A Dinner/Speaker Series Benefitting the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Art a la Carte

We enjoyed a festive cocktail hour, music, delicious dinner and enlightening art related talk by acclaimed speakers at the beautiful and historic University Club of Santa Barbara

Art a la carte

Speaker  and Topic Information

Diversity in Art

March 25, 2024

Vian Sora, Visual Artist

In conversation with James Glisson, SBMA Curator of Contemporary Art.

Vian Sora’s resilience and diverse life is expressed beautifully through her art.

Vian Sora

Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1976, Vian Sora lived through multiple wars, growing up under a dictatorship. This remarkably resilient woman has turned her pain and experiences into fascinating works of art which she shares with us all.

When Vian moved out of her native country in 2006, she crossed the border into Turkey, where she stayed and studied printmaking in Istanbul. She then spent some time in the U.K. In 2009, she ventured to the U.S., embracing the emotionally complex challenge of living in the country that invaded her own. Now living in Louisville Kentucky, she turns out a prolific amount of well received work from her own atelier.

Along this courageous path, she also earned 2 college degrees: one in computer science and one in business administration. Vian’s intelligence, complexity, pain and passion can all be witnessed in her creations of various mediums. Her shapes and suggested subject matter, reveal tension and searching. The use of gorgeous color combinations though, give the viewer a sense that all of this has fallen into a place of understanding. This genius style allows the audience to linger a while, enjoying the palette as they decipher the story. One repeated image that particularly stands out to me, suggests an anatomical heart which pumps life into many arteries that weave through the work.

Vian has moved many, as revealed in a massive list of exhibitions worldwide. Her work is preserved in several collections, both public and private, including museums and embassies. She has been awarded several residencies and grants.

We are grateful and fortunate to have Vian Sora share her life’s work and diverse exeriences with us.

Science in Art

April 29, 2024

Jennifer L. Mass, Ph.D.

The Future of the Past: Scientific Study of Artworks for Collectors, Museums, and the Art

Jennifer L. Mass, Ph.D.

News articles often frame the scientific study of artworks as a recent phenomenon, highlighting the latest discoveries about paintings by artists of great renown whose works command the highest values at auction (for example Vincent van Gogh). The reality of science in the art world, however, is quite different. Yes, scientists are called in to provide attribution data on a single major work like Salvator Mundi, the (maybe) Leonardo da Vinci painting on panel that recently sold for a stratospheric price approaching half a billion dollars. However, this work is also part of a long and unbroken chain, starting in the nineteenth century, full of important discoveries that have given us a greater understanding about the creation and preservation of some of the world’s most famous artworks. This includes works by beloved painters such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, and Paul Cézanne.

Dr. Mass will discuss discoveries about each of these painters, including the secrets behind their paintings’ luminosity and enduring beauty. Museum scientists carry out this work as part of a large team that includes not only scientists but also art conservators and art historians. Unlike the brilliant palettes of the painters listed above, she will also demonstrate how the concept of authenticity is in fact something rendered in many shades of grey, with attributions frequently being overturned as new information about an artwork comes to light.

Jennifer L. Mass, Ph.D. is the President and Founder of Scientific Analysis of Fine Art, LLC (SAFA), a scientific consulting firm for cultural heritage based in New York City. Dr. Mass is also Professor of Cultural Heritage Science at Bard Graduate Center, an M.A. and Ph.D. program in decorative arts, design history, and material culture. Dr. Mass formed SAFA because of the growing need for objective material assessment of cultural heritage objects in the art market to complement the expertise of the connoisseur and the conservator. She leads the Scientific Vetting Committee of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in New York City and is on the advisory boards of The Center for Art Law and the Appraisers Association of America. She has developed and taught scientific curricula to art conservators and art historians for twenty-four years and is the former Director of the Scientific Research Laboratory at The Winterthur Museum. She has held Conservation Science Professorships at the University of Delaware and SUNY College at Buffalo art conservation programs and is affiliated faculty in the NYU Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts. She has published numerous articles and edited volumes in the conservation and scientific literature and been invited to teach and lecture on her research on four continents. Her work has received worldwide media attention including NPR’s Science Friday, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Artnet News, the BBC, the L.A. Times, Hyperallergic, and The Guardian. Dr. Mass earned her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry and materials engineering from Cornell University and carried out her postdoctoral work in ancient Roman and Egyptian art at the Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her research focuses on the inorganic chemistry of cultural heritage objects; particularly exploring nineteenth-century technological innovations in artists’ painting materials and how these innovations relate to artworks’ mechanisms of degradation and change.

SAFA, LLC is a scientific consulting firm for cultural heritage objects comprised of two Ph.D. chemists, a Ph.D. physicist, a chemical engineer, two art conservators, and a Ph.D. archaeological scientist. A New York-based firm, we work with art museums, auction houses, art lawyers, art insurers, artists’ foundations, art investment firms, and law enforcement agencies including the FBI and Homeland Security to address questions regarding an object’s attribution, state of preservation, provenance, and mechanisms of degradation. Our ongoing projects range from paintings to antiquities and include several catalogue raisonné committees, intensive research of works from the Barnes Foundation (in particular the Matisse, Cézanne and Modigliani collections), The Solomon H. Guggenheim Collection, the Nevelson Chapel, the Munch Museet, and the blue period, rose period, and cubist works by Pablo Picasso.


Mystery in Masterpieces

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