This is the fourteenth installment in a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Today’s profile features Jacinta Johnson, who joined us in January 2019. Jacinta is the Associate Paper Conservator, Mellon Initiative, and splits her time between the Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art. Welcome, Jacinta!
Where are you from?
I grew up in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, but have lived in many other cities throughout the Pacific Northwest, California, and the East Coast.
What does your job at Spencer entail?
I joined KU Libraries’ Conservation Services Department in late January as the Associate Conservator for a three-year initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aimed at bridging the conservation efforts of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art. I specialize in paper conservation and split my time between the library and the museum, working with staff at each site to prioritize conservation projects with common goals.
What is one of the most interesting items you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?
The collection of prints and drawings by Mary Huntoon (1896-1970). Huntoon was born in Topeka, KS and grew up knowing she wanted to be an artist. She studied at The Art Students’ League in New York and lived in Paris for five years. She returned to Kansas in 1930 and later became the state’s first art therapist. Her work, which is mostly portraiture and landscapes, depicts important people in her life and all the different places she lived and the places where she travelled. The collection contains several preparatory drawings for prints and artist’s proofs that illustrate her careful working process.
What part of your job do you like best?
The opportunity to interact closely with collections. I enjoy finding clues about the artistic process, techniques, and materials.
What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?
I enjoy exploring cities by bike, fumbling through knitting projects, and trying out new recipes.
What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?
Be sure to utilize all the great help and guidance the staff can offer, and don’t forget to visit the current exhibition!
Associate Paper Conservator, Mellon Initiative