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Listening to Stone: Catherine Fischer at work in the UMFA basement

Anyone who has attended the Utah Symphony over the past two years knows how Thierry Fischer has helped changed the artistic landscape of the state. What most don’t realize, however, is what his wife has done for that same landscape.

The Fischers live in Geneva, Switzerland and spend 12 weeks of each season in Salt Lake City. While Thierry creates musical artistry with his baton, Catherine uses her brush to restore artistic treasures at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. A professional conservator, Catherine was eager to find an opportunity to be useful during her time in Salt Lake, so for each three or four week visit she has been busy volunteering in the museum’s basement, cleaning and restoring works.

Her first project was a large Italian fresco of a crucifixion scene with visible tears and drips and a surface so dirty no one knew a pair of storks nested on top of the crucifix until it was cleaned. Now it pops off the walls. Since then Fischer has cleaned marble statuary from the Renaissance and Greco-Roman periods, another Italian fresco and even a sandstone sculpture from central India. On her most recent trip, while her husband was preparing works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Berlioz, Fischer worked on “St. Catherine of Alexandria,” a late 15th-century limestone sculpture from France.

You’ll have to wait four more months to experience Thierry Fischer’s work again. You can experience Catherine’s work all summer long. All ten pieces she has restored are currently on exhibit at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

In this video Catherine Fischer discusses her professional practice, her volunteer work at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and why she loves working with old sculptures and murals.

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