Seydel: A Visual Poet

As we continue to prepare the books and the space for the opening of the Robert Seydel Reading Room Madeleine Dahl, Hampshire alumna (Fall ’09) and program coordinator for Hampshire’s inaugural Institute for Curatorial Practice, has introduced a beautiful new facet to our celebration of Robert Seydel. Her exhibit (presented in the three display cases on the library’s first floor) combines the work of Seydel with his varied interests by presenting select pieces from his donated library. Each case focuses upon unique aspects of Seydel’s work and life: “Collecting the Collector,” “Seydel: A Visual Poet” and “Art Text.”

A detail of the leaping hare was used to create the Robert Seydel collection bookplates. Image shows an open pamphlet set on a black background. The left side of the pamphlet is a hare leaping and the right is illegible text.
“Five Hares & Three Ruths,” Robert Seydel, published as part of Siglio Ephemera#2. A detail of the leaping hare was used to create the Robert Seydel collection bookplates. (Photo by Amanda Schwengel, Hampshire College)
Curatorial Statement
As I worked with the collection and sifted and searched through the roughly 3,500 titles, it became clear that Seydel was an avid reader and collector of books. The spectrum of topics in his collection is immense as is the potential for many Div III projects. As the program coordinator for the Institute for Curatorial Practice (ICP), a young art professional with focuses in museum ethics and indigenous peoples, and a Hampshire alumna, I wanted to create an exhibit that would reflect Seydel’s interests and extensive collection, could mesh with the topics of our ICP students’ digital exhibitions, and would provide an example to students for using the collection for personal and academic pursuits. The ICP summer program sought to explore the role and responsibilities of the curator in the swiftly changing digital age. Emphasizing the acquisition of critical, theoretical, historical, new media technologies, and digital design skills, ICP’s students were charged with the task of utilizing the Five College Consortium Collection to create a digital exhibition, including obtaining copyright permisions. Knowing our students would be working with digital renderings of objects, I conceived of my exhibition of the Seydel Collection as an homage to the tangible, to the joy of encountering and touching a book bearing its own history of passage from hand to hand to hand. While piling books on library carts, conversations were initiated with an excited “did you see this?!” and “wow-I’ve never seen an art book like that before.” The digital age demands new knowledge, innovations, and responsibilities of its participants and this can be positive for issues of accessibility, building interconnected global networks, and creating new means of engaging with critical issues, especially in the art world.

Madeleine Dahl
July 2, 2014

Photo of the top of an open display case in which several pieces (primarily books) are on display.
From “Text Art,” a focus on how Seydel used the combination of image and text in his work. (Photo by Amanda Schwengel, Hampshire College)

We invite all to come explore Dahl’s exhibit during the library’s open hours and to join us at the opening of the Robert Seydel Reading Room on September 12, 2014 from 4:00-6:00 pm.

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