Pictured at top: Lion, Helen Seigel, block print. At bottom: Untitled (Sweets), Michael Clapper.
Both owned by Rachel Seligman, Associate Curator, Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery
About four years ago, I was in Ithaca, NY, and we went to a huge antique mart, and I’m always looking at the art in those places. The Lion print caught my eye and I went back to it a bunch of times and in the end I thought, ‘ I have to have it.’ I brought it home and I hung it up in the house, where it hung for a long time, maybe six months, before I realized that I already owned a work of art by the same artist…. When I was a very young child, probably 2 or 3, my grandparents gave us a print of a girl dancing with a cat that ended up in my room, and I’ve had it ever since. So I’ve had it for about forty years. One day I realized that the same signature was on both prints. Now I don’t know if this is a story that I should tell on myself, because it’s kind of embarrassing. What’s amazing to me is that I was drawn to this piece and I added this piece to my collection without consciously knowing….I’ve probably had the first piece, the girl and cat, longer than anything else – and it seems to have shaped my taste.
Art wasn’t a big thing in my family growing up, and there was no collecting as such…. When I was a little kid, 6 or 7 years old, my dad took a sabbatical and we spent 6 months traveling around Europe. I was the one of my family who would say ‘Can’t we just go into one more gallery? Let’s just go into one more gallery!’ And I would make my parents stop the car at every roadside shrine when we were driving, and I would take a picture. I collected shrines. My parents were like, ‘This is totally crazy!’…. So I always was interested in art, and I was always interested in museums and arrangements of things, artful arrangements of things. Which I think is why I ended up in museums, and not as an art historian in the classroom. It really is about the thing and the thing in real space. That’s always been seductive and magical for me.
Rachel Seligman, 2012