En el taller de mi abuela (In my grandma’s workshop)

Artist: Alberto Marcos Bursztyn (American)
Title: En el taller de mi abuela (In my grandma’s workshop)
Date: 2016
Medium: Mixed media
Size: n/a
Location: Lower level
Provenance: The Brooklyn College Library Collection. Gift of Alberto Marcos Bursztyn.

The Brooklyn College Library Collection. Gift of Alberto Marcos Bursztyn.

As a child, I often sat on the floor of my abuela Sara’s workshop while she was busy in the kitchen making delicious meals. Her dressmaker’s workshop was her livelihood, but also my playground. Gathering strips of cloth, searching for interesting buttons, hiding under the worktable and pretending to disappear, the workshop invited me to imagine. The piece evokes echoes from that period and celebrates her craft. It honors the strength and creativity of immigrant women who mend, stitch, and keep their families together with found remnants and threads of memory. My grandmother’s family migrated to Argentina in the early 1900’s escaping violent outburst of antisemitism in Ukraine. My mother in-law, a gifted dressmaker born in Poland, survived Nazi labor camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau by sewing fashionable evening wear for female Nazi guards. Thread spools from her Brooklyn sewing kit form the necklace of this piece.

The mannequin is covered by strips of maps from every corner of the planet, but each strip tells only a fragment of a story. Only when assembled together, we discern their purpose and aesthetic quality. The belt depicts a seismographic reading of a major earthquake, a reminder of traumas that bind and contain a fragmented past.