IIC Honorary Fellowship Awarded to Joyce Hill Stoner

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Joyce Hill Stoner with Tracy Liu, paintings conservation major (WUDPAC Class of 2020). Photo credit to Evan Krape © University of Delaware.

The IIC Honorary Fellowship is a distinguished honor awarded in recognition of an individual’s outstanding contribution to heritage conservation, with the first Honorary Fellowship awarded to Edward Forbes in 1958. Among the luminaries of our field who have received this are George Stout, Caroline and Sheldon Keck, and Paulo and Laura Mora, to name just a few. We highlight these names to you specifically as this year’s honoree has known and respected these individuals personally, along with many others who are listed as IIC Honorary Fellows. She has also had the honor to work with them and to record their oral histories for posterity. It is thus befitting and with deep appreciation that the IIC awards this distinguished honor to Joyce Hill Stoner, paintings conservator and Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor in Material Culture at the University of Delaware.

Joyce Hill Stoner received her B.A. from William and Mary in 1968, with a major in fine arts and honors project in painting conservation, her M.A. from the NYU Institute of Fine Arts in 1970, and her diploma in conservation from the NYU Conservation Center in 1973. She was a Kress Visiting Scholar with John Brealey at the Metropolitan Museum (1980) and a Getty Visiting Scholar with Andrea Rothe at the Getty Museum (1985). In 1995 she completed a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Delaware, focusing on the techniques of paintings, lithographs, and decorated interiors by James McNeill Whistler.

As an educator in the field of conservation, Joyce initiated a pre-conservation program at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1975, became the head paintings conservator at Winterthur in 1976, was head of the conservation from 1980-82, and served as director of Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) from 1982 to 1997. She became the chair in 1990 when WUDPAC was combined with the new Ph.D. Program in Art Conservation Research, which Joyce championed through University and Winterthur Academic Committee approval. She was promoted to a full professorship in 1996 and resigned as chair in 1997 and is now the director of the UD Preservation Studies Doctoral Program. In recognition of her invaluable leadership, contributions, and dedication as a mentor and educator, WUDPAC established a named fellowship in her honor in 2016.

Stoner has written over 120 articles or book chapters and has co-edited a multi-author 890-page Routledge book on The Conservation of Easel Paintings, originally published in November 2012 with a newly revised edition on its way to press. In 1975, under her leadership and with the support of the board of directors of FAIC, the Oral History Project was created to archive transcripts of interviews with conservators, conservation scientists, and related professionals. Over the years more than 100 conservators and students worldwide have assisted in the project by conducting interviews on a volunteer basis, with more than 400 transcripts currently on file, and more contributions being added every year. Joyce has served as coordinator of the FAIC Oral History Project from its start in 1975 to the present, championing and preserving this invaluable record on the history of the field.

As paintings conservator her notable projects have including being senior conservator for the team treating Whistler's Peacock Room at the Freer from 1987 to 1992, supervising the treatment of a 19' x 60' N. C. Wyeth mural in 1998, and carrying out treatments for the Freer Gallery of Art, Colonial Williamsburg, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Brandywine River Museum, the Wyeth family, and various private collectors. She continues an active program of treating paintings in the presence of the undergraduate and graduate students she is supervising and is a mentor to generations of paintings conservators.

Her portrait was painted by American artist Andrew Wyeth, whom she advised and supported in her conservation work, and with whom she shared a treasured friendship. As an art historian, Joyce guest curated the show FACTORY WORK: WARHOL, WYETH, AND BASQUIAT and wrote for and coordinated authors for the catalogue. The show appeared in three venues in 2006-07. She co-curated another exhibition, WYETH VERTIGO, for the Shelburne Museum, summer 2013 which was chosen as “Exhibition of the Week” by The Week magazine.

For the field, Stoner has served as executive director for the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) from 1975-1979, managing editor of Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts (1969-1985), and as a grant reviewer for NMA, IMS, FAIC, Kress, and Getty Grant Program. She served as vice president of the College Art Association, on the IIC Council (as vice president), on the Delaware State Arts Council (until 2010), and continues to serve on the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, the AATA Board of Editors for the Getty Conservation Institute, and the U.S. Senate Art Advisory Committee.

Stoner was awarded the AIC University Products Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, the AIC Paintings Specialty Group Award "for outstanding contributions to the field of paintings conservation" and the College Art Association and Heritage Preservation Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation, both in 2011.

For those who know Joyce personally, we are astounded by her boundless energy and commitment to the field and her students, all while having a second passion in music with some rather impressive theater accomplishments. To date, she’s written lyrics, music and/or scripts for almost 30 stage productions. Notably, in 1974, Joyce wrote the lyrics and most of the music for the off-Broadway show I’ll Die If I Can’t Live Forever, which the New York Times called “the best mini-musical in town.” Her other productions include Turn Back Columbus (Please Don’t Discover Us!) (Toronto); Murder at the Last Resort (Cleveland); in NYC: 1-900-THE-SHOW, As She Dreams It, and The Roswell Follies: An Alien Revue (NYC Fringe Festival). Additional musicals concerned Whistler, N.C. Wyeth, C.W. Peale, women’s suffrage, and the underground railroad. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and was in the Lehman Engel BMI workshop in the 1970s. Her recent work includes writing the lyrics for the University of Delaware’s acclaimed musical Campus Chatter and collaborating with composer and producer Xiang Gao as lyricist for Shanghai Sonatas, which was a workshop on Broadway in 2019.

Joyce has been a member of the IIC since 1970 and a Fellow in good standing since 1977. We are proud to acknowledge her 50th anniversary as an IIC member with an Honorary Fellowship for her remarkable accomplishments, while toasting her continued dedication and contributions to the field of conservation. Please join us in sending our sincerest praise and recognition to an outstanding Fellow, conservator, teacher, mentor, leader, actor, lyricist, and colleague as we place her name among our most distinguished IIC Fellows.