Georgia O'Keeffe's Paintings Are Breaking Out in 'Art Acne'—Here’s Why

Dale Kronkright / © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Dale Kronkright / © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Adolescents aren't the only ones who suffer from acne. Some of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings from the '40s and '50s have also sprouted a few "pimples" as well, according to Smithsonian.

These tiny bumps that bubble up on the surface of artworks go by different names—including "pimple-like protrusions," "blisters," and "art acne"—but everyone pretty much agrees that they're undesirable. O'Keeffe herself noticed the bumps while she was still alive, but for decades, conservationists and art scholars thought they were merely grains of sand. This wasn't a bad theory, considering that O'Keeffe lived and worked in the New Mexico desert.

However, a team of experts from Northwestern University and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe recently discovered that the problem is a little more complicated. As it turns out, these pimples are caused by a chemical reaction known as metal carboxylate soaps.

"The free fatty acids within the paint's binding media are reacting with lead and zinc pigments," Marc Walton, a professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern, said in a statement. "These metal soaps started to aggregate, push the surface of the painting up and form something that looks like acne."

Practically all of O'Keeffe's paintings are plagued by these metal soaps, but her pieces are hardly the only ones. The works of Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Piet Mondrian, and Marc Chagall have also shown signs of "breakouts," as Smithsonian puts it. By some estimates, up to 70 percent of all the world's paintings on public display suffer from the affliction.

While these bumps are sometimes hard to detect with the naked eye, they are destructive and can get worse over time. Even when conservators restore the paintings, the lumps often return with a vengeance.

Fortunately, the team of experts developed an app that lets museum staff turn their smartphones and tablets into a hand-held tool that's capable of monitoring the growth of these pimples. Essentially, the app uses the flash or LED display to reflect light off the painting and capture it in an image. Those photos then get filtered through algorithms that are designed to identify the shape of the surface—including any problem areas. Oliver Cossairt, an associate professor of computer science, likened the smart tool to the "tricorder" from Star Trek, which was used in part to diagnose disease. "It can give you extremely accurate measurements but is also something you can just pull out of your pocket," Cossairt said.

The app is still being tested, but researchers hope to make it available to the public in a year. For conservators, having access to better—and cheaper—measurement tools will help them identify a course of action to protect these artworks, whether it's tweaking the storage conditions or improving the travel containers that carry pieces from one exhibit to the next. "If we can solve this problem, we’re preserving our cultural heritage for generations to come," Walton said.

[h/t Smithsonian]

This Smart Accessory Converts Your Instant Pot Into an Air Fryer


If you can make a recipe in a slow cooker, Dutch oven, or rice cooker, you can likely adapt it for an Instant Pot. Now, this all-in-one cooker can be converted into an air fryer with one handy accessory.

This Instant Pot air fryer lid—currently available on Amazon for $80—adds six new cooking functions to your 6-quart Instant Pot. You can select the air fry setting to get food hot and crispy fast, using as little as 2 tablespoons of oil. Other options include roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, and reheat.

Many dishes you would prepare in the oven or on the stovetop can be made in your Instant Pot when you switch out the lids. Chicken wings, French fries, and onion rings are just a few of the possibilities mentioned in the product description. And if you're used to frying being a hot, arduous process, this lid works without consuming a ton of energy or heating up your kitchen.

The lid comes with a multi-level air fry basket, a broiling and dehydrating tray, and a protective pad and storage cover. Check it out on Amazon.

For more clever ways to use your Instant Pot, take a look at these recipes.

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This 10-Year-Old Is Sending Art Supplies to Hundreds of Kids in Homeless Shelters and Foster Homes

Evgeniia Siiankovskaia/iStock via Getty Images
Evgeniia Siiankovskaia/iStock via Getty Images

She may be stuck at home, but Chelsea Phaire has found a way to connect with hundreds of kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. As CNN reports, the 10-year-old from Danbury, Connecticut, has used her time in isolation to send 1500 art project packs to kids in foster homes and homeless shelters.

Phaire had been interested in starting a charity from a young age, and on her birthday in August 2019, she launched Chelsea's Charity with help from her parents. Instead of birthday gifts, Chelsea asked for art supplies, and all the items she received went to a homeless shelter in New York. The Phaires have since set up a wishlist on Amazon, so anyone can donate supplies for the art kits. One pack includes crayons, paper, markers, gel pens, coloring books, and colored pencils.

In recent months, Phaire's mission to provide resources to underserved kids has become more vital than ever. Schools around the country have closed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, which means kids have less access to art supplies than they did before. Young people may also be dealing with increased stress and boredom from being isolated inside. By sharing art kits, Phaire hopes to give them a healthy outlet for their struggles.

Chelsea's Charity has donated more than 1500 kits to schools, shelters, and foster homes since stay-at-home orders rolled out in March, which is more than was donated in the initiative's first five months. COVID-19 has forced Phaire to do some things differently: While she would normally get to meet many of the people she helps in person, she now sends all her donations by mail. Until it's safe to travel again, she's staying connected to kids through social media, as you can see in the video below.

[h/t CNN]