Kriah Quilt

It  is a custom in Jewish tradition to rip the garment of the bereaved at the funeral to mark the irreparable rending of  grievous loss. After his death, I couldn’t bear to think of disposing of my  husband’s favorite shirts. Instead I had a surprisingly visceral desire to tear them up and to sew some of the scraps back together as something new. I also tore other things  from our  life together. Not only his shirts but many cloth fragments of the life that we had shared. His wedding tie; fabric from my wedding dress; our daughter’s crib “blankie”; even a bit of the curtains from our first shared bedroom. With countless careful hand stitches I reassembled that which was torn apart. Stitching the quilt became a story I told myself – each piece charged with memory and meaning — about how my life was once colorful and beautiful. And that  it could still be so. Still in progress, the stitched scraps now include fabric from my ongoing experience, as it has unfolded since his death, with top stitching and embroidery as a celebration. The thread not only holds the seams together, it has held me together.

 Assembling the Kriah Quilt (detail)

01quilt in progress

Fabric, cotton and silk thread. finished dimension: 10′ x 6′. all hand stitched, and embroidered

 Detail 1

kriah quilt close up 3 copy

Detail 2

kriah quilt close up 8 copy

Detail 3

kriah quilt close up 6 copy

Detail 4

kriah quilt close up 4 copy

Detail 5

Kriah Quilt close up 2 copy

Detail 6

Kriah quilt close up 11 copy

Detail 7

quilt detail

Detail 8

quilt tzistzit


Oddly, artists are often unaware of what they are doing. During that time, I also started to make small drawings and paintings of a woman sleeping alone under a patchwork quilt.  It wasn’t until a few years later, when both the sewn and painted work were exhibited together, that I recognized the connection between the women who sleep under the quilt and myself sewing the real quilt.

All Alone at Night

quilt all alone

Gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 7″ X 5.5″

Exorcizing Demons

quilt exorcizing

Gouache on Liscia hot pressed, 7″ X 5.5″

Learning to Live Alone With only the  Moon as Company

a living alone

Bic ball-point ink on found cardboard, 8″ X 8″