In Memoriam: Michelle Lester
By Nell Znamierowski
Michelle Lester, noted tapestry weaver and
teacher, died unexpectedly on 2 October 2002. Prior to her move
to Beacon, New York, in 1998, Michelle maintained a studio on West 17th
Street where she and her assistants wove more than 100 tapestry
commissions she received during the 1970's and 1980's. A
commission from Pan Am involved the weaving of over 300 tapestries.
These tapestries were woven to adorn the bulkheads of their
planes. IBM purchased 32 tapestries for various locations.
Her clients included industrial giants, insurance
companies, department stores and other businesses and office venues, as
well as private collectors. Most of Michelle's work was not small
but in the 10 to 30 foot range or larger.
She was a marvellous colorist. This,
combined with her strong feelings for nature which she portrayed in an
abstract impressionist manner, made her work immensely appealing. Her
tapestry renderings were watercolor sketches which were framed and
shown in painting exhibitions.
Michelle was born on June, 1942 in Cleveland,
Ohio. She got her BFA from Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA from
Syracuse University. She became known in the Rochester/Syracuse
area as a weaver and teacher and through group shows where her early
work consisted of inventive rugs combining flatweave with pile.
Michelle continued weaving and teaching after moving to New York City
and began her prolific tapestry output. She branched out as a
textile designer and illustrator doing work for Jack Lenor Larsen and
the fashion designer Nicole Miller, among others. A ball of
energy, Michelle even found time to pursue her love of dance with
weekly tap and ballroom lessons. Through all these activities she
touched many lives but remembrance will be strongest among her weaving
students and assistants to whom she remains an inspiring teacher and