susan c. dessel

"still lives" installation. Culpeper Gallery, Abrons Arts Center

"still lives" installation. Culpeper Gallery, Abrons Arts Center

"still lives", Exhibit and Installation
2009
carved cow bones & horsehair; heirloom linen & Kosher salt; African chew sticks (Licorice root)
Various

The “still lives” installation is hung to fill the gallery with individually named (dates noted where known) toothbrush-like forms, tooth rags, and chew sticks.

The installation gives voice to the women among the first Jewish community in Nieuw Amsterdam and their female descendants buried in 3 small Manhattan cemeteries (Chatham Sq., West 11th and West 21st Streets, NYC, belonging to the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue, a.k.a. Congregation Shearith Israel) through the mid-1800s.

The women who died after 1779 (the year the Wisdom Factory in England opened to mass produce toothbrushes out of cow bones and horsehair) are represented by Dessel’s carved toothbrush-like forms.

The women who died prior to 1780 are represented by linen tooth rags dipped in salt.

The slave women and girls are represented by African chew sticks and named where documentations noted their names.

Photographs of the tooth rags and chew sticks by Susan C. Dessel.

Photographs of the “still lives” installation and the toothbrushes by Robert Puglisi.

Alternate Views

  • "still lives", Exhibit and Installation Dessel's "still lives" exhibit in the Culpeper Gallery, Abrons Arts Center, overview

    Dessel's "still lives" exhibit in the Culpeper Gallery, Abrons Arts Center, overview

  • "still lives", Exhibit and Installation "still lives" installation. Culpeper Gallery, Abrons Arts Center

    "still lives" installation. Culpeper Gallery, Abrons Arts Center

  • "still lives", Exhibit and Installation Detail, tooth brushes, "still lives" installation

    Detail, tooth brushes, "still lives" installation

  • "still lives", Exhibit and Installation Detail, tooth rag, "still lives" installation

    Detail, tooth rag, "still lives" installation

  • "still lives", Exhibit and Installation Detail, chew sticks, "still lives" installation

    Detail, chew sticks, "still lives" installation