Since retiring from Stanford University, where he was the Director of the Cantor Center for twenty years, Tom Seligman has returned full-time to his art practice. “Ever since I can remember, I have been making and repairing things, drawing, painting, woodworking, doing ceramics, building plastic models etc. I began working with nails in my father's workshop as a young child and have continued to use them in their traditional way, for building, until the present As objects used in my art practice, nails—whether hand-forged or machine-made—have violence associated with their creation. Nails come from metal, heat, and forging, and when used in building to join, hold, support, or secure, they are violently driven to penetrate.
Nails also have a wide spectrum of ideas, meanings, sayings (e.g. “tough as nails”), and symbols (e.g. Christ nailed to the cross). It is within this spectrum that I situate much of my work. For this reason, my sons started calling me "Nailman." I use my past experiences in building, art making, scholarship and fieldwork in Africa, and museum work as a basis for my artistic vocabulary. I prefer not to focus on a particular medium; instead I work with various materials that I find engaging and appropriate for a particular idea.”