The artist was struck by a Philadelphia policeman’s reference to Martha Gruening (1889 – 1937) as a “brick in a soft hat” following her arrest and jailing in 1910. Dessel created a series of portraits of Gruening based on this unintended metaphor.
Brick In a Soft Hat (Portrait of Martha Gruening, No.1)
Schut Lautier paper, archival ink.
44" H 33" W
The artist’s use of excerpted text from the New York Call article (Wed., February 16, 1910), “Philadelphia Police Kicked Brick in the Hat When They arrested Miss Martha Gruening” in Gruening’s hat seen by some as referencing micrography.