FABRIC OF SURVIVAL: THE ART OF ESTHER NISENTHAL KRINITZ
Over the past decade, several hundred thousand visitors to over a dozen museums in the United States have been able to experience firsthand the extraordinary fabric art of Holocaust survivor Esther Nisenthal Krinitz.
In 1942, when the Jews of her Polish village were ordered by the Nazis to report to a nearby train station, 15-year-old Esther Nisenthal fled, with her parents’ blessing and her 13-year-old sister Mania in tow. Hiding with non-Jewish friends, then in the forest, Esther and Mania ultimately created new identities, posing as Polish Catholic farm girls, hiding in plain sight of the Gestapo.
In 1977, at the age of 50, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz began creating works of fabric art to tell her story of survival. Trained as a seamstress, but with no training in art, she ultimately created 36 remarkable fabric pictures of strong, vivid images and folk-art realism, meticulously stitching the narrative of her story beneath each picture.
You can see images of Esther’s work in our Galleries section, where you can access audio narration, and high resolution images and detail. To see the original artwork in person, check out our schedule of upcoming exhibitions.
Those interested in bringing the artwork to their communities–please see our exhibit specifications for venues. Because the fragile nature of these fabric creations requires that they only be displayed in venues with museum-quality controlled lighting, environmental controls and security, we are currently creating an additional traveling exhibit of high-quality large-scale photographic reproductions of Esther Krinitz’s artwork for smaller venues. Please be in touch with us if this might be of interest to you and your community.
On occasion over the years, Art and Remembrance has co-sponsored or helped promote exhibits of other art–and particularly fabric art–of those who have experienced war, intolerance and injustice.
In late 2006 and early 2007, when Esther Krinitz’s artwork was on display at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley, CA, Art and Remembrance helped support and promote another Bay Area exhibit of fabric story art, by Los Hilos de la Vida/Threads of Life, a cooperative of 25 mostly Latina Mendocino County quilters, who depicted their immigration plights through cloth. Samples of that artwork can be seen on this website in our Galleries; and a complete book of the artwork, with descriptions in English and Spanish, can be purchased in our Marketplace.
In March-April 2012, Art and Remembrance co-sponsored an exhibit with the George Washington University Art Therapy Program, called Arpilleras: Community Action and Empowerment Through Narrative Textile Art, and curated by Roberta Bacic. The exhibit included samples of actual arpilleras, story cloths of protest created by Chilean women during the regime of Augusto Pinochet, as well as story cloths created elsewhere in response to injustice.