The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 500 University Ave., is presenting “Fabric of Survival: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz” through Dec. 2.
The exhibition features 36 needlework and fabric collages that tell the life story of the artist, a Holocaust survivor. Each panel includes stitched captions beneath the image. In combination, word and image provide a chronological narrative of events leading up to and following Krinitz’s decision as a 15-year-old girl to go off with her younger sister, rather than join the rest of their family and neighbors on their forced journey to a death camp in Poland.
“The fabric collages are a striking and moving story of one woman’s journey from a childhood impacted by the horror and trauma of war and discrimination to the hope of a new life in the U.S.,” said Marlene Hamann-Whitmore, director of academic programs.
“As powerful as the story is, it is the stunning craft and loving attention to detail that inspires one’s deeply felt response,” said Jonathan Binstock, MAG director.
In 1977, at the age of 50, Krinitz started creating works of fabric art to depict her story of survival. Trained as a dressmaker but untrained in art, she created this collection of needlework and fabric collage pictures in strong, vivid colors and striking details with a sense of folk-like realism. While the pictures are almost cheerful, a closer examination reveals the stark incongruity between the pastoral surroundings and the human violence, terror and betrayal that are their subjects.
MAG brought this exhibit to Rochester through a collaboration with Art and Remembrance, an organization founded in 2003 by Krintz’s daughters, Bernice Steinhardt and Helene McQuade. Art and Remembrance is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to using the power of story and art to illuminate the effects of war, intolerance and social injustice. Visit artandremembrance.org to learn more about the organization.
“My sister, Helene, and I are honored to bring our mother’s art and story to Rochester and MAG,” Steinhardt said. “Esther never imagined that her work would be seen outside of her family. She created her art just for her daughters, but we always knew that her art needed to be out in the world, and are deeply grateful to MAG and those in the Rochester community who helped to bring it here.”
Programs related to the exhibition include “Slide Talk” by McQuade and Steinhardt at 2 p.m. on Sept. 16, as well as “Celebration Series: Jewish Heritage” from noon to 5 p.m. on Nov. 11.
MAG is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays-Sundays, as well as 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens, $6 for college students and ages 6-18 and free for members, UR faculty/staff and students and ages 5 and younger. Admission is half-price from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Call (585) 276-8900 or visit mag.rochester.edu for information.