Brooke Young Russell ‘99 is the lead conservator at EverGreene Architectural Arts. Combining arts and chemistry, Brooke specializes in architectural conservation in paint, working to preserve architecture in historic buildings and structures ranging from the Enoch Pratt Library to the Berlin Wall.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
It would definitely be the Enoch Pratt Library. The library has brought so much enlightenment. The building and its history are really unique.
We were brought in to do paint reveals and investigation. My colleague and I removed the current paint and under it found the historical decorative painting. We re-did all of the original paint to be historically accurate. We took the paint samples and looked under a microscope to get an understanding of what happens to paint over time in order to accurately match the colors. We were able re-create several of the rooms in that building.
I am also proud of the section we restored on the Berlin Wall. I was able to see the complexity of trying to preserve something that once was a divide that is now a symbol of freedom.
What is most challenging about what you do?
The money is tough. You have to sacrifice yourself financially, so it’s important to love your job. Also, the failures. You can’t save everything, and it’s hard. Sometimes the project dies. Losing that history can be really sad.
What’s the most important lesson you learned from Garrison Forest?
B.J. McElderry really worked with me and taught me how to paint. I have never found a medium that I love as much as oil paint, and now I get to treat oil paint for a living. I credit B.J. for my career. She instilled in me the confidence to pursue what I love regardless of how much money I make.
GFS believed in me. The school helped build my self-esteem and character so much that when I got to NYU, I sat in front of the class and didn’t think about it. Our teachers knew that not every girl has a genius IQ, not every girl can run up and down the lacrosse field, but every girl was treated like she was important, and that was incredible.