On exhibition at Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts are tapestries by embroidery artist Trudie Strobel that depict memories of Holocaust survival with elements of Jewish history and culture through finely stitched narration and threaded imagery.
The exhibition “Trudie Strobel: A Life in Tapestry” features detailed and intricate embroidery of Jewish life, history and culture from times near forgotten in our contemporary age. The 17 individual works are created with threaded technique showing dimensions and colors.
At the beginning attendees are introduced to pictorial scenes framed with soft, delicate flowers and birds, illustrating the delight and loveliness of the community. As attendees move through the exhibit, colorful columns and flowing shapes introduce significant people and moments in Jewish history. Symbols such as the Star of David, Hebrew script and notes of Jewish culture slowly engulf the experience.
As the exhibition unfolds, stories woven in silk, cotton and wool thread conjure up internal reflection and personal impact. They incite feelings of peace and destruction, persecution and relief, triumph and perseverance.
Strobel’s mother, Masha, worked stitching Nazi uniforms, enabling them both to survive the Holocaust.
“Trudie’s entire story is a testament to…Masha’s drive, maternal drive, to save the life of her child,” said Jody Savin, author of “Stitched & Sewn: The Life-Saving Art of Holocaust Survivor Trudie Strobel.”
Savin added that her story demonstrates the instinctive, primal empowerment that motherhood provided them.
One piece, “Trudie’s Goose,” stands out as unique because it doesn’t seem to depict any scenes from history or tell a story. However, “Trudie’s Goose,” is part of the Holocaust survival of Masha and her daughter.
When the two were in a displacement camp, ladies from the Red Cross came and gave the children crayons and toys. Unlike the other children, Trudie had received beautiful little beads. These very beads are the ones seen stitched into “Trudie’s Goose.”
“I started to learn to embroider,” said Strobel.
Strobel recalled her mother tearing part of her own clothing to stitch the beads on and teaching her the technique of embroidery.
After seeing the beads Strobel asked her mother if they could stitch a goose. Masha found a picture of a goose in the displacement camp and placed it over the cloth as a guide to stitch an image of the goose.
As the two worked together, Strobel’s mother said the beads had to be sewn tightly together because the goose “needs a stiff neck in order to fly.”
“‘When we get to America we’ll finish it,’” Strobel remembers her mother telling her. And they did.
Maya Savin Miller and Lila Dworsky-Hickey are two local Pasadena teens who curated the exhibit.
“I am part of the last generation to meet Holocaust survivors… it is our responsibility to preserve and share this story to not slip into the repetition of history,” said Miller.
The exhibit will end Sunday, Mar 1, 2020 and is open from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.
On Mar 31, Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena will host the first book signing event for “Stitched & Sewn: The Life-Saving Art of Holocaust Survivor Trudie Strobel,” where author Jody Savin and artist Trudie Strobel will discuss the book and sign copies. The event will take place at 7:00 p.m.
On April 5, a book launch event will be held at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in Los Angeles. The event will be from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
On May 3, book signing and discussion will be at Crowell Public Library in the Barth Community Room, in San Marino. The event will be from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.