Berit Engen WEFT and D'RASH – A Thousand Jewish Tapestries

(Tapestry detail)

 
After Thirteen Years of Weaving “Weft and D’rash”:
Tying Up Loose Ends Before the Final Stretch
 
I was about 650 tapestries into my project, and I needed to take a break for a few months. This time enabled me to become serious about writing. For a while, I switched from yarn and loom to ink and notebook. I began to rethink older musings and reflections, scribble down new thoughts and ideas, and record my anecdotes and stories – everything that clearly or opaquely relate to my Jewish experience.

As a child and into my early twenties I used to love writing letters to friends and family. I corresponded with many people. I stored the letters that I received carefully in an old suitcase. And forgot about them. When I was in my fifties, I helped my dad clear out of the apartment I grew up in. Delighted to find the suitcase, I took it with me on a train ride, looking forward to reading the letters, all from so many years ago. I boarded the train in Oslo, but when I arrived in Trondheim eight hours later, I was still reading...

In the spring of 2023 and about fifty years after I stored my correspondence away in the attic, I am back to writing because I want to expand on my weaving project beyond the notes that accompany the series and tapestries. These essays reflect how my life’s stories influence my current work and vice versa. Like the ways that the vertical threads of the warp and the horizontal weft overlap and intertwine, life's details end up being mysteriously connected. I know the word 'tapestry' is too frequently used as a metaphor – but it is the best metaphor for the complexities of life.

 
 

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