Dessel, Susan C.           

June 23-24, 2003           


New York, NY

Title: breath of life
Media: Cement, feather

Historically, based on the belief that the breath of life is in the nose, a feather was placed under the nostrils of someone assumed to be dead to test if there was breath.  Witnesses would gather around a body to confirm the death. 

Here the feather moving with the air in the room represents a confirmation of life, witnessed by the viewers. 


Title: from now on only birthday candles
Media: Cement, melted candle, used match

from now on only birthday candles reflects a desire for a diminished necessity of memorial candles.

My work is generally a reflection of our social or political condition.  It invites interaction between that which is intensely personal and our cultural and social history.  It is not my intention to provide a narrative for the viewer, but it is my hope that something in the work will spark a connection with the viewer.

In 2004 I made a prototype of a piece that I made in 2005 using Purple Heart wood, small zip lock bags, and small stones.  The stones are selected randomly to reflect the randomness of death among the U.S. military in Iraq.  Each bag represents a month of the year, beginning with March 2003.  Each bag contains a stone representing each U.S. military person who died in Iraq that month (as found on  This is based on the Jewish custom of placing a stone on a gravestone each time the graveside is visited.

The piece (Whose Counting, No. 2) can be seen on my website: