Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fabric of Survival: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz

 Where: Ripley Center

When: through January 29, 2012

I had heard from a friend that this was a great show, and I was not disappointed.  In 1977, at the age of 50, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, a seamstress without formal artistic training, decided to preserve her memories of her childhood and young adulthood in Poland for her daughters and their children.  She made panels from fabric using embroidery and fabric applique to create pictures to narrate her story which she has stitched onto the bottom of each panel.

As artwork, these panels are quite good.  The colors are wonderful and they really give you a wonderful sense of place and time.  The story is heartbreaking, all the more so, as there are so many people who have a similar story to tell.  Although she lost almost her entire family (one sister survived with her) and her way of life, Krinitz was lucky.  She was able to evade capture by the Nazis and after the war emigrated to the US with her husband and their older daughter.  The fact that so many people suffered far worse fates is truly horrible.  The way Krinitz tells her story is without sentimentality; it's never cloying or phony.  Her description of the terrible events that befell her is matter-of-fact, which makes it all the more powerful.

Verdict: Do make time to see this show; it's not very large, so works well for a lunch hour and is well worth the trip.

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