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Clara K. Seley


ITHACA - Clara K. Seley, a resident of Kendal at Ithaca, died July 2, 2003 at the age of 97.Born in Russia, Mrs. Seley came to the United States in 1911. She worked in the rare book department at Bamberger's department store in Newark, N.J., and as manager of the rare book department at Brentano's Bookstore in New York City. While at Bamberger's, she met her husband, Jason Seley, who later became an internationally acclaimed sculptor and a member of the faculty at the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University. Jason Seley served as dean of the College at the time of his death in 1983.Clara Seley was an accomplished sculptor whose work has been exhibited in Central New York and around the country. Her principal medium was Haitian Mahogany, which she carved into torsos animal figures. She also worked with bronze and aluminum. Clara began to sculpt while living in Haiti in the 1940's. In the 1950's she began to make pastels and black and white drawings. Her work was exhibited at places including Roko Gallery in New York City, the Walker Center in Minneapolis, the Newark Museum, and Holbart and William Smith College.The couple, who frequently exhibited their work together, generously supported Cornell's library, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, as well as other interests. They were named foremost Benefactors of Cornell University in 1997.Clara Seley is survived by four nieces, Lillian Reilly and Judy Brenner of New Jersey, Edith Kaufman of Florida, Sylvia Roberts of California; three nephews, Dr. Eugene Kalnitsky and Felix Kalin of Florida, David Emin of New Mexico; and by many grandnieces and grandnephews.A memorial service will be held in September on the Cornell Campus celebrating the life of Clara Seley.Contributions may be made in her memory to Cornell University for its College of Architecture, Art and Planning, and the University's Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. They can be directed to the Office of University Development, Attention: Linda P. Kabelac, 55 Brown Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850.Bangs Funeral Home will be in charge of the arrangements.
Published in Ithaca Journal on July 4, 2003
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