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Fabric of Survival: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz

June 14 - October 25, 2009


(above: Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, Coming to America, embroidery and fabric collage, with fabric wash, 1996, 24 x 24 inches)


Oceanside Museum of Art is embarking on a series of special programs inspired by the art in the coming exhibition, FABRIC OF SURVIVAL: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, that opens on June 14, 2009 and runs through October 25, 2009. Esther Nisenthal Krinitz was a teenager in rural Poland when the Nazis invaded her quiet village changing her life forever. Separated from their family, young Esther and her sister survived the Holocaust pretending to be Polish Catholics, eventually coming to America after the war. Several programs are planned throughout the exhibition that celebrate Jewish culture and honor Holocaust memories. The exhibition will open on Sunday, June 14th with a Holocaust Memorial Service from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. conducted by Rabbi Dorit Edut. (right: Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, Passover, embroidery and fabric collage, 1998, 20 x 32 inches)

In New York, Esther began her life as Mrs. Max Krinitz, and continued the sewing and embroidery she learned as a child. She was an avid storyteller and throughout their lives, shared with her daughters the story of her harrowing days as a youth in Nazi occupied Poland. A gifted seamstress, Esther decided, at age 50, to tell her story in cloth, stitching thirty-six beautiful and poignant appliqué and embroidered panels which comprise the exhibition, FABRIC OF SURVIVAL: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz.

On June 28th from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., Mrs. Krinitz' daughters, Bernice Steinhardt and Helene McQuade will present a slide lecture at the museum as co-founders of the nonprofit organization Art and Remembrance. The purpose of Art and Remembrance is to use the power of storytelling and art to illuminate the effects of war, intolerance, and social injustice. The exhibition also features a 13-minute video with Mrs. Krinitz by award-winning director, Lawrence Kasdan.

Other programs planned during the exhibition are performances by the San Diego Jewish Men's Choir, the Second Avenue Klezmer band, and screening of the film, Crossing Delancy for OMA's Culinary Cinema Series presented at the museum that pairs food with a film. Guests will dine on traditional favorites prepared by one of San Diego's premier Jewish caterers.(left: Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, Depths of the Forest, embroidery and fabric collage, 1994, 20 x 20 inches)

The Museum will be designing its popular Free Family Art Day programs around the exhibition as well, with an ongoing tile-making project and the films Paper Clips and We Must Remember, produced by and for young people to explain the stories of the Holocaust survivors and those who perished. Free Family Art Days are Sundays from 1:00-4:00 p.m. July 5, August 2, and October 4.

Holocaust survivor Sol Berger will talk to children and adults about his experiences for Free Family Art Day July 5th, in language that is kid friendly yet informative. We hope to create an atmosphere where young people are comfortable asking questions and learning about the Holocaust and its legacy.

At Free Family Art Day on October 4th Paperclips will be screened at 1:00 p.m. From 2:00-3:30 kids can paint tiles that will go on a commemorative tile wall at the museum, and at 4:00 p.m. We Must Remember will be shown in the OMA auditorium.

Dr. Andrea Liss, a Holocaust scholar on the faculty of California State University, San Marcos, will lecture from her recently published book, Trespassing through Shadows on October 8th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Her book sheds light on the process by which people remember the Holocaust and the critical role that photographs play in stirring and shaping their memory. Fee for the lecture, or free for OMA members.

Art & Remembrance says of the artist:

Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, along with her sister Mania, were the only members of their family, and among the few Jews in their Polish village, to survive the Holocaust. At the age of 15, Esther refused the Nazi order for the Jews to report to a nearby railroad station for relocation. She and her sister separated from their family and never saw them again.
In 1977, at the age of 50, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz began creating works of fabric art to depict her stories of survival. Over a 20-year period she created a collection of 36 needlework and fabric collage pictures which are now on public exhibition.

RL editor's note: readers may also enjoy:


TFAO suggests:

this book:

Memories of Survival, by Bernice Steinhardt. 64 pages. Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (October 4, 2005). ISBN-10: 0786851260, ISBN-13: 978-0786851263

this DVD or VHS video::

Fabric of Survival: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz (13-minute DVD or CD) is a documentary film that includes the interview with Esther Nisenthal Available through Art & Remembrance, which says: "In 1998, acclaimed filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan spent three days interviewing Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and family, with her art work as a focal point. In this beautiful 13-minute documentary film, Kasdan has distilled Esther's story and art into into a poignant memory of survival." (right: front box cover of Fabric of Survival: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz)

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