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Stephen Little. From Angkor Wat to Dragon Tiger Mountain


I have had many experiences, and encountered many works of art, that informed my decision to become a curator. I was fortunate to spend my childhood years in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Thanks to my father, a linguist specializing in the languages and dialects of Indonesia, my family and I moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Jogjakarta, central Java when I was 5 months old. Among my earliest memories are gamelan music and the Hindu and Buddhist temples of Prambanan and Borobudur. In 1959, when I was 5 years old, my father began working at the American embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; three years later we moved to Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar). Also in the early and mid-1960s my family lived in Istanbul, Turkey, where my father taught linguistics and Old and Middle English at Robert College, an American university founded during the late Ottoman Empire.

We were fortunate to live in Southeast Asia prior to the Vietnam War and in the Middle East prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. I remember that my mother used to drive by herself from Phnom Penh to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to go shopping for the weekend, and that in the mid-1960s my family drove in a Volkswagen camper bus through Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, exploring many ruined Greek and Roman cities in these remarkable countries. By the age of 11 I had been exposed to many of the greatest monuments and cities of Southeast Asia and the classical Mediterranean world, among them Angkor Wat, Delphi, Troy and Pergamon. As a consequence of these experiences, I have always had a deep love for Indonesian, Cambodian, Greek and Roman art and architecture.

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May/June 2018
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