Drawings by susan c. dessel 5/5 8/18/2013
Artists Talk June 23, 2013, 1-2 pm
Gallery G at Gomez Mill House opens its 2013 season on May 5th with a solo show of susan c. dessels “american samplers, series 3 (chicken chronicles, nos.1-14)”. The exhibit encapsulates dessels voyage from cemetery to gallery, giving voice and dignity to the women of the first Jewish refugee and immigrant communities in New York as it speaks to possibilities and challenges faced by immigrants yet today.
The exhibit is based on responsibilities in the lives of the 6 women who, with 4 men and 13 children, in 1654 established the first Jewish community in Manhattan and their female descendants. Jews were buried in the 3 small, unassuming cemeteries (Chatham Sq. on the Lower East Side, and W. 11th and W. 21st Sts. in New York City) of the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue from the 1650s until burials were banned in Manhattan in 1852.
Unlike ensuing waves of refugees and immigrants, among them the Luis Gomez family, the arrival of the first Jewish women in Nieuw Amsterdam (New York) was unplanned: the result of piracy, and intervention. Dessels work reflects particulars from their lives and continuity in concerns and dreams shared among immigrant groups since then.
The artist celebrates their lives, making her work accessible to viewers regardless of cultural traditions or backgrounds. Dessels work also honors traditional womens work: samplers. Her repetitive pattern of playful lobsters represents the bounty of non-Kosher food that these early settlers were not able to take advantage of and is a play on the majority minority aspects of the society experienced by the Jewish community in the New World.
The drawings present historical realities that continue to impact our national dialogue, reflecting the artists belief that art gives people freedom to contemplate things they might not feel comfortable talking about in todays charged environment.
Since the Gomez family joined the Ulster and Orange Counties communities in the early 1700s the inhabitants of the Gomez Mill House have played a role in the local culture. Dessels contemporary conceptual work ties us to those who came first and those still arriving on our shores