Berit Engen will be speaking and presenting some of her remarkable tapestries at Emanuel Congregation on Sunday morning, November 19, at 10:15, the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday. These miniature tapestries were inspired by a musical setting to “Modim,” a Hebrew prayer of thanksgiving, that was composed by the Norwegian-born cantor Cavid Brandhandler. This event is free and open to the public. Emanuel is located at 5959 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago.
Berit who was born and raised in Oslo, Norway and began weaving as a child, and now she combines this ancient craft with the centuries-old tradition of expounding on Jewish texts, (in Hebrew, drash.) Her ongoing project, begun in 2007, consists, to date, of about 500 original pieces.
While referencing Jewish subject-matter, her pieces often display a Scandinavian sensibility, as found in Nordic nature, architecture and design. She compares her small-scale tapestries to Japanese Haiku: formally constrained by a miniature size – imagistic and focused, yet elusive.
Eighty-six of her tapestries were shown in a solo exhibition at the Spertus Institute in Chicago, 2012-2013. In 2015, she was selected to participate in the Midwest Jewish Arts Lab (MJAL), a one-year project of Chicago-based Jewish artists, organized by Spertus Institute and funded by the Covenant Foundation, fostering Jewish art and identity and culminating in the group exhibition, “Voices of Wisdom,” 2016-2017. Three tapestries are part of the permanent collection of the Chicago History Museum, and her “Woof and D’rash” project has been featured in Lilith magazine. She is a founding member of Jewish Artists Collaborative Chicago, (JACC).
A member of Oak Park Temple in Oak Park, Berit teaches children and adults Biblical Hebrew, prayers, and cantillation.
Thornton Wilder won the National Book Award for his novel, The Eighth Day, in 1967, forty years after his novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1927. In between those years, Wilder, the playwright, won Pulitzers for Our Town in 1938 and The Skin of Our Teeth in 1943. What a literary career!
The Newberry Library is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary and the new edition of The Eighth Day with a reception, actor readings and commentaries on the evening of Wednesday, November 15. The event is free and open to the public. The reception starts at 5 and the program begins at 6. There will even be an anniversary cake. Commentators include Tappan Wilder, the author’s nephew and literary executor; Jeremy McCarter, the co-author with Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton; and Liesl Olson, the Director of Chicago Studies at the Newberry. And the Northlight Theater has cast actors Mike Nussbaum, Linda Kimbrough and B.J. Jones to read. It should be a very special evening.
Registration is required. You may register at https://www.newberry.org/11152017-chasing-wilder-chicago