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Arts and Entertainment

Collecting art? Take Halima Taha’s advice: Go for what you like
Gathering works an ‘opportunity for self-discovery’
Published Thursday, April 5, 2018 9:36 am
by Ashley Mahoney

Collecting art doesn’t require training.

Art collector Halima Taha spoke at the Harvey B. Gantt Center recently on collecting as a means of “self-discovery” of experiences people want in their lives on a permanent basis.

Halima Taha recently spoke at the Harvey B. Gantt Center on the topic, where she addressed aspiring artists, students as well as seasoned collectors. She shared insights she first penned two decades ago in her ground breaking book “Collecting African American Art: Works on Paper and Canvas.”

“Collecting is a basic part of the human personality,” Taha said. “Many of us begin collecting by starting with books and coins and stamps and posters and Matchbox cars, and we do so without much advice or training, but somehow we feel that collecting art is a full-time affair, and it’s really not.”

Taha advocates collecting as a path for what she calls “self-discovery.”

“It’s a great opportunity for self-discovery through looking at art, reading, speaking to artists, meeting art professionals, going to museums, going to galleries,” Taha said. “In that process, it’s a great opportunity for self-discovery about oneself, other people and the world in which we live.”

She explained how the stimulation of the experience becomes something that people want in their lives on a permanent basis, rather than as an isolated memory, thus the decision to begin acquiring works.

“In that process, people generally decide that they want to acquire a part of that experience,” Taha said. “It usually manifests in collecting works on paper, inclusive of prints or photography, or works on canvas or sculpture, or even textile works.”

Each collection has its own definitive qualities, which inevitably evolve, but the best place to start is with pieces you like, not with what you think you should like.

“When people begin collecting, they usually start, and I always encourage people to stay in this place, of collecting what they like,” Taha said. “It’s important to collect what you like, because we are all as unique as our individual fingerprints. Our collections reflect that individual, unique qualities that make our homes our own. They also enable us when we share collections as collectors to institutions as they travel, it allows other people to gain insight into a whole different perspective and sensibility.”


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