Sigrid Elisabeth Lindforss, Sigelle (a combination of her first and middle names), was a trained opera singer, music teacher and artist who regularly created vibrant works of color and collage.
As a young opera student in Dresden, Sigelle met Swedish diplomat Gösta Oldenburg, married him, and moved to Chicago in 1936 where she raised her two sons Claes and Richard. Always an artistic person, Sigelle began making Christmas cards for friends during the 1950s, something that developed into an interest in creating other works of art. She used simple tools—felt markers, paper and her boundless imagination—to create often whimsical shapes and forms.
Richard Oldenburg calls his mother’s artwork “fascinating, [for] their inventiveness, their variety and their color.” Sigelle’s works are almost entirely abstract, very minimalistic, and with a strong sense of color and shape. Her sons found them in the basement, and though Sigelle herself had wanted her art destroyed, they felt the work needed to be seen. Claes Oldenburg, himself a well-known artist, says Sigelle’s work is “…remarkably spontaneous; she is so sure of where she is going. And the art is so much hers—she had no formal training. Color, form, composition all comes naturally. I am very fond of it.”

Art by SIGELLE will be complemented by a space in the gallery devoted to art making, where visitors are encouraged to discover their own creative side. One of the primary goals is to inspire children’s engagement with, and enjoyment of, Sigelle’s use of color, pattern and common materials. Visitors of all ages will have the opportunity to express themselves visually and play with color, shape, texture and line, using interesting art supplies, suggested techniques and projects, and other educational tools. Children will have the chance to hang their colorful creations for other museum visitors to enjoy.
The opening of Art by SIGELLE is sure to be fun for the whole family. Come see this visual exhibition, explore your artistic possibilities and create your own unique configurations inspired by the artwork on display. The April 14 exhibition opening is free with museum admission and refreshments will be served. For more info, call the museum at (215) 389-1776 or see


This exhibition is made possible by gifts from IKEA South Philadelphia, SWEA New Jersey and SWEA Philadelphia. We are also grateful to the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, ASHM Auxiliary, Midsommarklubben, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and an anonymous foundation for their generous support of ASHM’s exhibitions and programs.
The American Swedish Historical Museum is located in scenic FDR Park at 1900 Pattison Avenue in South Philadelphia near the Sports Complex. Plenty of free parking is available. For those taking public transportation, the Broad Street Subway’s AT&T/Pattison Avenue stop is within walking distance or SEPTA’s Route 17 (Naval Base) can bring you right to the Museum.