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June 07, 2007 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-06-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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My Childhood Home: Embroidery on linen, 1977.

The Nazis Arrive: Embroidery and fabric collage, 1993.

The Somber Death March: Embroidery and fab-

ric collage, 1991.

Sewn Into Memory

An extraordinary
collection of
tapestries
chronicles the life
of one survivor.

Elizabeth Applebaum
Special to the Jewish News

W

ho could have imagined what
was about to happen.
In Esther Nisenthal
Krinitz's childhood home, life was happy,
ordinary. The family lived on a tiny hill
in Mniszek, Poland. Chickens and geese
roamed about the yard, and yellow and
orange and purple flowers covered the
grass, like happy polka dots.
Years later, Krinitz would make a tap-
estry showing this home. There is her
mother, holding baby Leah, and her father
in a brown shirt, many siblings, all gone
now, all murdered by the Nazis.
When Esther Krinitz was 50, she began
a project that would span decades and
affect more people than she likely ever
imagined. She started by creating a tapes-
try showing her home in Mniszek, and she
finished with her arrival in America. All
told, Krinitz made 36 large tapestries, each
depicting a different memory of growing
up in Poland and the rise of the Nazis.
The tapestries will be on display, in the
exhibit "Through the Eye of the Needle

38

June 7 • 2007

— Fabric of Survival:' from June 10-Aug.
9 at the Janice Charach Epstein Gallery,
located in the D. Dan & Betty Kahn Jewish
Community Center in West Bloomfield.
"A member of the JCC gave me a copy of
Memories of Survival (a book compilation
of Krinitz's tapestries):' said Terri Steam,
director of the Janice Charach Epstein
Gallery. "And I just knew we had to have
the exhibit here. The creator of these tap-
estries presented her life in such a unique
way. I have never seen a Holocaust story
told with such love and strength:'
After Krinitz's death in 2001, her
daughters, Bernice Steinhardt and
Helene McQuade, established Art and
Remembrance, a nonprofit educational
organization that uses story and art to
illuminate the effects of war, intolerance
and social injustice. Their mother's work
was the first to be included.
"My mother was a remarkable person:'
Steinhardt says. "She was a courageous,
resourceful girl, which is the kind of
woman she became'
She was a loving mother, as well, and
an extraordinary cook, Steinhardt says.
"She made everything: blintzes, piro-
gies, stuffed cabbage. She could make
potatoes in 1,000 different ways. She also
was a creative cook who made all kinds
of savories and pastries. Then there was
the hamantashen and her rugelach, which
were exceptional. Well, all her food was
exceptional.
"She also loved to entertain:' she con-
tinued. "My mother's measure of a good
person was the size of his or her appetite.
You could really impress her if you cleaned

your plate'
Steinhardt remembers watching her
mother, who owned a dress shop, creating
all kinds of lovely works of art. "She knit
and she sewed and she made curtains and
decorations for the house. Then, at one
point, she started making a lot of decora-
tive, embroidery things like flowers and
patterns, and someone said to her, `Why
don't you make your own designs?' and
that started her thinking."
Krinitz always had spoken to her chil-
dren of her childhood and her life during
the war; "I can't remember a time I was

growing up that I didn't hear her story:'
Steinhardt says. Then she decided to show
them, as well.
Steinhardt and her husband had a little
girl, Rachel, soon after Krinitz created
the first of her tapestries. For the next 11
years, Krinitz spent all her time sewing for
Rachel, and next, her little brother, Simon.
"But then she went back to the memory
pictures:' Steinhardt says.
Krinitz began adding a brief written
description of what was happening in

Sewn Into Memory on page 39

For Fiber Fans

Two exhibits at the Cranbrook Art
Museum extend the attention to fiber.

H

of House: Expanding the Field of Fiber at Cranbrook 1970-2007,"
shown June 17-Oct.14, features works by Gerhardt Knodel and
Jane Lackey and 68 out of 275 graduates of the Bloomfield Hills
Cranbrook Academy of Art's fiber program, formerly led by Knodel and Lackey.
"Material Memory: World Textiles from the Collections of Cranbrook Art
Museum and Gerhardt Knodel" can be seen June 17-Dec. 30. Works range in
date from the first to the late-19th century.
Both exhibits are celebrated with live music, tours and artists talks through-
out opening day, Sunday, June 17.
Museum hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. the
fourth Friday of each month. General admission is $5-$7. A Web-based gallery
will be launched June 17 at www.cranbrookart.edu/hothouse.
For more information, call (877) 462-7262. I I

- Suzanne Chessler

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