susan c. dessel

May 7, 2008

For Immediate Release 7 May 2008

Art work CENSORED by the Long Beach Island Foundation for Arts & Sciences

Exhibit up through May 19, 2008

NYC-based artist Susan C. Dessel’s installation OUR BACKYARD: A Cautionary Tale, on view in the current Artist Residency exhibit at the Long Beach Island Foundation, has been walled off from the rest of the gallery. To protect inadvertent viewers those who venture to view the work in the enclosed area must first step across signage warning them that the piece may be upsetting or offensive.

In keeping with Artist-In-Residence Desi Minchillo’s theme of “art created post-9/11”, Dessel received an invitation to exhibit her installation in the current show. On the eve of the exhibit’s May 3rd opening, LBIF Interim Executive Director Chris Seiz was advised by some LBIF members that they found the piece “offensive” and were considering ending their support of LBIF.

The solution was to install curtained walls more than 6’ high around the piece. Dessel states, “OUR BACKYARD: A Cautionary Tale was an opportunity for me to re-imagine the world as I understand it: our shared backyard. Despite the expression in my work of dispiriting conditions, underlying the work is a robust sense of hope that it might encourage viewers to consider their own role in transforming the community — local and global — through their actions and inaction.” LIBF’s transformation of the piece has turned Dessel’s intention on its head, reflecting containment and cutting ourselves off from the outside world.

OUR BACKYARD: A Cautionary Tale was first exhibited as a site-specific installation for the Dam Stuhltrager Gallery sculpture garden, Williamsburg (Brooklyn) NY in 2006. It was conceived in response to wide-spread images of violent death in many parts of the world. The limitation of the artist’s expression in the current show raises new issues about the role of art in our society.

The Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts & Sciences will celebrate its 60th anniversary this fall. Established to promote the arts and sciences, its Mission states “We accomplish the goal by enlightening, educating, and stimulating thought, by discussion about current trends in the arts and sciences…”. This recent action challenges the stated goals.

Dessel’s participation in the LBIF exhibit was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (NYC).

See WORKS 2008 in this web site for images.

For more information contact Susan Dessel, at 917-817-4964 or by e-mail at

Location: Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences
120 Long Beach Blvd. Loveladies, New Jersey 08008. Tel: 609-494-1241.

Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm and Saturdays 9am – 3pm.