just in time for summer reading – “ornamenting the unthinkable,” a new article from wendy kozol and yours truly

So excited to report that the article Wendy Kozol and I co-authored about the remarkable needlepoint work of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz has just appeared in WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly.  

In their introduction to the special issue, the editors–Taylor Black, Elena Glasberg, and Frances Bartkowski–frame survival as follows:

If survival has just one affective mode, it might be defiance—the feat and fate of living beings after injury, trauma, war, captivity, and natural disaster. It would also be the survival of words, signals, and germinal states of being in the world that we sometimes call natural, but that also encode the cultural landscape. A topography of ruins, trash, exhaustion, and depletion remains and reminds us of that which lives on after in a state of belatedness that is survival: the afterlife of what was not supposed to remain, that which was to have died, but did not, after all. Survival defies nostalgia, envy, and accusation. Survival in the realm of resources—whether human, animal, or mineral—gives the lie to a necropolitics, forcing the living, those living, and those living on to accede to a call from the future to turn away from that fallen angel of history (14).

WenWSQ coverdy and I analyze Krinitz’s work as a register of how the everyday process of surviving war lasts as long, or longer than the conflict itself, and consider how her art functions as a reparative practice that ameliorates the traumatic impacts of historical violence without ever succumbing to them.  We are drawn to Krinitz’s tapestries not only for their technical virtuosity and lush aesthetics (see the panels in person if you ever get the chance!) but for the way these dimensions stubbornly refuse to grant monstrosity authority over the beautiful.