Clemson University

Emeritus College Seminar with Dr. Mary Virginia Orna

  • January 14, 2020 (Tuesday) 10:00am – 11:30am, SEMINAR: How Color Changed the World with Mary Virginia Orna (Professor Emerita of Chemistry, College of New Rochelle): The Emeritus College is honored to host Dr. Orna, a well-renowned expert in the areas of color chemistry and archaeological chemistry. Color has been an exciting and enjoyable part of human life ever since the color-sensitive eye evolved over a million years ago. However, the junction between color and chemistry, and color and history, is of more recent origin. The first recorded use of chemistry to manufacture a color is the stunning set of cave paintings found in the Grotte Chauvet in Southern France. Executed over 32,000 years ago (20,000 years earlier than Lascaux!), they are a testimony to early humans’ ability to create beauty and to engage in abstract thinking. This talk traces the history of color usage as a chemical endeavor from the earliest records to the present day focusing on four major areas: fashion, pharmaceuticals, food, and fun. It is a trajectory peppered with stories to help us understand the mystery of color as a universal experience and phenomenon; its chemical history, as you shall see, even changed the course of history in the 20th century. This talk is based on Dr. Orna’s book, “The Chemical History of Color” (Springer, 2013). Please plan to join us for a no-host lunch at Solé on the Green after the seminar. The lunch is a great way to continue the discussion with the presenter.

Tuesday, January 14 at 10:00am to 11:30am

Emeritus College, Meeting Room 511 Westinghouse Road Pendleton, SC 29670

Event Type



College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, Art, College of Science, Chemistry, Emeritus College

Target Audience

Students, Faculty, Undergraduate, Graduate



No cost

Contact Name:

Nicci Hanewald

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