May 2, 2024 - Things to Do

Art Snack: Bonnie Meltzer's Burned Piano

woman in front of a burned piano

Fabric artist Bonnie Meltzer and the Burned Piano Project at the Oregon Jewish Museum. Photo: Joseph Gallivan/Axios

Artist Bonnie Meltzer and musician Jennifer Wright salvaged a burned Steinway piano for art's sake — and the sake of healing.

Flashback: A series of arsons at a mosque and two synagogues in 2022 are part of the catalysts for the exhibit.

  • Also a victim of the arsons at that time, according to Meltzer and Wright, was a Jewish family's Portland home and office. The family escaped but most of their possessions were burned, including their grandmother's baby grand piano.
  • Axios could not find a news account of the home fire.

Zoom in: Meltzer and dozens of volunteers crocheted and wove the recovered copper and steel piano strings into a tapestry depicting the sun rising over a black landscape.

  • Wright took some of the keys and made a new piano, where the hammers hit glass rods instead of strings — now on display at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education.

Zoom out: Meltzer is a textile and social practice artist who invites volunteers to help with the handicrafts.

  • She follows the 2,000-year-old saying of Rabbi Tarfon, about the work of mending the social fabric: "It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it."

If you go: "The Burned Piano Project: Creating Music Amidst the Noise of Hate" is open through the end of June, including guided tours and concerts.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Portland.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Portland stories

Portlandpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Portland.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more