Art was never a part of my life or even on my radar. I went through a very dark time about 10 years ago when my beloved brother, Howie, died. He was the closest person in my life to me. He was a successful orthopedic surgeon at the top of his game when illness struck. It was a devastating time for me and my family. It was unimaginable to think he would not be here with us.

After he died, I had so much nervous energy I couldn't sit still. I tried to recreate something we made with our dad in our basement woodshop, wishing wells. That was the birth of my art.

First came the tins. Then came compacts and mirrors for everyone I knew, and then I started on bigger things ... mannequins and body parts. The best part of my work is that, when I'm doing it, I can sometimes feel my brother's presence. Since he was a surgeon, he did everything with great precision and detail. And now I feel as if he is guiding me through some of my pieces. I feel him in them.

Because of this, my work is deeply personal and meaningful. It's been my way of getting through my grief, and it's very meditative and healing.

Susie Mandell: Meditatively Made Beadwork



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