Berit Engen

Berit Engen began weaving as a child in Norway and now practices this ancient craft of entwining weft (grey, horizontal threads) with warp (colored, vertical threads) in the centuries-old tradition of expounding on Jewish texts. She finds inspiration for her work in the richness and diversity of the Jewish experience: from the laws of the Torah to modern poetry, from the chanting of ancient prayers to the satire of Yiddish curses, from the ethical wisdom of the Prophets to the black lace adorning Sephardic women.

She compares her linen-yarn tapestries to Japanese Haiku: formally constrained by a miniature size, imagistic, and focused, yet allusive. Her ongoing project, "Weft and Drash –Weaving a Thousand Jewish Tapestries," begun in 2007, consists to date of about 600 pieces. Her work has been shown in various solo and group shows, including a exhibitions at the Spertus Institute in Chicago (2012-2013) and the Janice Charach Gallery (of the JCC of Metropolitan Detroit (2018.) Her work is part of the permanent collection of the Chicago History Museum and has been featured in Lilith magazine. A ten-piece commission on the Sinai story is permanently installed at the entrance to the sanctuary of Temple Har Zion in River Forest, IL (2020).