McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory performs conservation treatments for a variety of objects from Old Master Paintings to contemporary fiber optic artworks. A recent stainless sculpture conservation maintenance project of Lady Justice, 1997 by Diana Moore was completed by Christina L. Simms, Conservator of Objects and Sculpture at the Warren B. Rudman Courthouse in Concord, New Hampshire.
The sculpture, executed in cast stainless steel, depicts Lady Justice . She stands almost ten feet high, on a large granite plinth equal in height. Lady Justice has a Grecian style dress and is wearing sandals, and she is in the process of tying (or untying) her blindfold. The mirror-like finish of the figure’s skin contrasts with the more matte appearance of the fluted gown. In this way, the artist creates texture and visual interest with the same material.
The sleek lines and stainless steel material seem definitively modern; however, the artist, Diana Moore, drew inspiration from ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Cambodian sculpture. As one of three plaques at the base of the sculpture explains, “the long, simple garment Justice wears is strikingly modern, yet its finely ribbed texture also mimics the fluted columns of classical architecture – symbols of strength and stability befitting a court of law”.
Conservator Simms was made aware of concerns that the metal sculpture appeared dingy or corroded. While stainless steel will develop corrosion like any ferrous-based alloy, it is unusual that a sculpture spending its entire life indoors would have major corrosion issues. Conservator Simms assisted by conservation assistant, William Durbin, traveled to New Hampshire to complete the stainless steel conservation maintenance. Since the sculpture is nearly 20 feet in the air, it was necessary to access it from a lift.
Upon visual inspection with the aid of a lift, Simms assessed the surface. There was a significant layer of accumulated dusts and grime, but thankfully the discoloration was a result the interplay of light and reflections in the building. This meant only a straight forward stainless steel conservation maintenance was required.
The surface was dusted with microfiber pads, but it was apparent that additional cleaning was required. Simms performed solvent cleaning tests to further remove the grime from the surface of the stainless steel Lady Justice by Diana Moore. A delicate touch is critical in performing the treatment since the highly polished surface is easily scratched.
After dry-cleaning methods followed by cleaning with common solvents, the surface of the sculpture once again appeared lustrous and bright as it was intended by the artist. The plaques and plinth were also cleared of dust and grime.
Lady Justice by Diana Moore at Warren B. Rudman Courthouse is a striking sculpture that befits the equally regal architecture of the building. Diana Moore is an American sculptor born in 1946 and is still active. Her works of Lady Justice created for various federal courthouses resulted in three design awards from the General Services Administration’s Art-in-Architecture Program. Moore has many more works of art ranging from large sculpture to smaller artworks which have been featured in exhibitions or installed at different sites around the nation.