Detail, "still lives" installation
Cow bone, horsehair, kosher salt
Susan C. Dessel’s solo exhibit “still lives” at the Culpeper Gallery Abrons Arts Center at Henry Street Settlement (NYC) was made possible in part through a 2009 Manhattan Community Arts Fund Grant, supported by the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
This site specific work included a room installation honoring the lives of the women among the first Jewish community in Nieuw Amsterdam (1654) and their female decedents through the mid-1800s.
Dessel’s objects combine beauty and functionality to represent each woman. The artist chose to make a toothbrush and its precursors as objects representative of the dignity of each woman as she strove to keep body and soul together in a strange environment. Each brush is symbolic of the womens struggles to take care of the home and the family and to hold on to a sense of self while caring for others needs and wants.
“american samplers, series 3, (the chicken chronicles)”, the accompanying suite of drawings, uses objects of daily life with a dollop of humor to depict serious issues faced by these 17th century women and refugees and immigrants still today.
Photograph by Robert Puglisi.