susan c. dessel

Martha Gruening Suffragist
2013
Strips from a roll of transparent archival film, Recycled paper hangers, rubber stamp (images of Black Maria © s.c.dessel).
Installation

The form that I chose for the work was that of a Suffragist sash. These sashes were worn over the shoulder and across the chest as an advertisement and an adornment, and allowed the wearer to use her body as a political statement. I often work with multiples to represent the repetitive tasks of women’s lives, and to reference something specific in the particular work. I made 48 sashes to represent Gruening’s age at her death (Jan. 26, 1889 – Oct. 25, 1937). I used recycled paper hangers, personalized with the Black Maria (Police Van) stamp I created, convinced that Gruening would have been concerned with sustainability and waste had she lived today. The shape is symbolic of her strong shoulders, used back-to-back in pairs to resemble the upper torso — perfect to drape the text-covered sashes over. When installed, these hanging objects move gently, twisting and turning, reflecting Martha Gruening’s life as a free spirit.

Alternate Views

  • Martha Gruening Suffragist

  • Martha Gruening Suffragist