My children and I consume a lot of art together. As they grow up, I see glimpses of how sharing art together affects them. Since, I’m not the first artist (or art professional) to raise a child, I have begun asking adult children of my colleagues how experiencing art from a young age has impacted them. I swapped emails with Morgan first because I was struck by how her father talked about his work and his family. See her responses below:
Student at King’s College in New York City
Where are you from?
I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and moved to Pompano Beach, Florida when I was fifteen. Now I go to school in New York City.
Which of your significant caregivers/parents were involved professionally in the arts?
My dad, Dan Siedell.
When you were a child, how would you have described your caregiver’s profession in the arts?
I really had no idea what he did most of the time, but knew he worked at a museum. When I was young he was curator of the Sheldon Museum in Lincoln Nebraska.
I also remember telling people he liked art and knew a lot about it.
How has your involvement in your caregiver’s career in the arts evolved over the years?
I went from occasionally picking up artist’s names and pictures my dad was looking at, to a slow incline of continued interest. I started asking my dad what his occupation even was and found myself asking more and more to explain the art we looked at together. I am continually learning new things from him about individual artists and artistic style through history and the most beneficial thing for my art education has been to go to museums with him. Having him point out his favorites and his reasoning behind each beloved piece of art is very helpful in not only acquiring information about the logistics of art, but also the emotional presence that a piece of canvas or lump of clay can have on a human.
What characteristics do you love or respect most about your caregiver/parent who is working in the arts?
I have always loved my dad’s passion for his work and his interests. I have never encountered a man more willing to sacrifice everything in order to live out his love for art and the art world and how that art fits into his religious beliefs. That carries into his other great quality, which is his selflessness. My dad’s humility in everything he does is intensely gratifying. He never feels as if he is the best or the brightest, but that all he has accomplished is simply through a pure love of the work he does.
Who first introduced you to Art?
My dad. It was always the goal for my brothers and I, to draw something or color something that would make it on the infamous office wall. My dad had a creepy basement office with no windows and the floor could hardly be seen peeking out because of the stacks of musty books covering it. My dad’s desk was made out of an old wooden door balanced on two filing cabinets. The cement block walls were covered in posters of Pollock and art exhibitions my dad had curated. In all the blank space, our pictures hung. It was special to have a picture made for your dad among the pictures that hung in museums.
What’s one of the first art experiences you remember?
The first conversation I remember having with my dad about art was when I was four or five and I had just spent the day at the museum and was disturbed by the naked women paintings/photographs on display. I asked my dad why the artist would do that, because being naked is inappropriate. My dad told me that it was not inappropriate if you looked at the picture as an admiration of the human form, beautifully and shamelessly created by God. I laugh about that conversation now. I spent the rest of my childhood not feeling scandalized by nude portraits because of that explanation and I didn’t realize that many adults, especially Christians feel it is inappropriate. I have had many college friends ask me about nude paintings and I always give them my dad’s answer he gave me so many years ago.
When did you go to your first artist’s studio?
When I was about thirteen or fourteen my family to a vacation to Delray Beach, Florida to visit artist Enrique Martinez Celaya. At this point my dad was working very closely with him and I grew up considering Enrique family. Seeing his studio opened up a new level of art and the relationship it has to the artist in my mind. I have learned from watching Enrique that art is painful for artists to create and if it flows too easily then it’s probably crap.
When did you go to your first art museum?
I went to the Sheldon Museum in Lincoln Nebraska before I can remember. My dad would show me art or the newest installation, but mostly I ran free, over stimulated in the new and very strange environment of an art museum when you are a small child.
Any good bribes your caregiver gave you when you went to an art museum?
My brothers and I actually loved going to visit my dad at the museum he worked at in Lincoln. We got to wander around the clean marble floors and many of the staff knew us well and would show us around. The biggest pull for us was the scanning printer. Somehow it was discovered that if you put your face or hands on the screen it would scan it on a piece of paper. We would beg my dad to let us take a turn scanning our hands and we would give it to my dad to tape up on the walls of his office.
Who was the first artist to capture your attention or imagination?
Enrique Martinez Celaya was and is biasedly my favorite artist. He was the first artist I ever met and art didn’t really seem real when I was just learning about the most famous artists like Van Gough or Cezanne. The art was historical and it wasn’t relevant to me, not yet. After meeting Enrique at a young age and getting to experience his art in a very intimate way really opened my eyes about art. Suddenly a painting of a horse wasn’t just a painting of a horse, but had depth and meaning and style and reason applied to it. To this day my favorite paintings of Martinez Celaya’s collection is Boy with Horse. My favorite actually used to be one with a German shepherd dog and a girl looking out into the water and an iceberg in the distance, but shortly after I picked it out at his studio as my favorite it was painted over multiple times and now holds a completely new scene.
How would you describe the affect of your art on your childhood?
I think having art in my life early on helped to make me a deeper thinker about art and humanity in general. Part of it was my dad’s guidance through artwork and discussion of literature, film, music, that all filtered into the pool of art and connected to the visual art that I saw in the studio of Enrique Martinez Celaya. I think I am able to see beauty where some may not be looking for it.
How would you describe the affect of your art experiences on who you are today?
Art has definitely earned my respect and I think I have become a more thoughtful person, finding meaning in things that I might have never taken a second glance at. I also think I have invaluable knowledge of the life and mind of the artist, which is more than just a carefree life of finger painting when it suites you best.
What is your favorite art museum?
The MoMA is my favorite by far. I have grown very attached to the painting in the permanent collection there.
Would you describe yourself as creative?
I would. I love to write fictional stories. Math, science, and history have never been something I’ve been interested in. My brain just doesn’t work that way, instead I invest my time in listening to music, reading books, writing stories, looking at art. I think human’s ability to create is simply amazing.