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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 friend.


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