Fabric of Survival: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz

krinitzIn September 1939, a 12-year-old girl named Esther watched as German soldiers began arriving in her small Polish town. It marked the beginning of a new terrible time that took away her freedom and most of her family.  At age 50, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz began creating works of fabric art to pass on her memories of her early life to her children.

Trained as a dressmaker but untrained in art, Krinitz created a collection of 36 needlework and fabric collage pictures in strong, vivid colors and striking details with a sense of folk-like realism.  Meticulously stitched words beneath the pictures provide a narrative.  While the pictures are visual pleasing, almost cheerful, a closer examination reveals the stark incongruity between the pastoral surroundings and the human violence, terror and betrayal that are their subjects.

Tom L. Freudenheim, former director of the Berlin Jewish Museum, wrote:  “These extraordinary pictures are very moving, but not in the least bit sentimental.  The compositional concepts are highly sophisticated.  I was overwhelmed by what I saw.”

“I had no intention or ever dreamed that (the artwork) would be exhibited,” said Krinitz.  “I only did it for my children, my two daughters.”

The exhibition is made up of 36 fabric and embroidery collages and features a short film, Through the Eye of the Needle:  The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz.