Jane Trigere, 64
South Deerfield, Mass.
Job: Textile artist and community volunteer
Previously: Director of the Hatikvah Holocaust Education and Resource Center in Springfield, Mass., now closed.
After leading the Hatikvah Center from 1997 to 2000, Trigere earned a master’s degree but was unable to find another job in the museum/arts administration field. She has been making art and doing volunteer work instead, including establishing the Jewish Historical Society of Western Massachusetts.
Why change? “It had to do with a sense of doing the right thing, which tripped me up. It was a mistake to leave the Hatikvah Center. I told the people who hired me, I’m really not trained in Holocaust education. But I had a wonderful time doing it and it was very successful. I was not clever enough about how to negotiate better circumstances for myself. Instead I thought, ‘somebody else who has the proper training should do this.’”
Proper training: “After leaving my job at Hatikvah, I entered the master’s program in Jewish art and visual culture at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan. It was exhilarating. At the end, I thought, ‘I’m going to find a job and repay the loan in no time flat.’ I applied for a bunch of jobs. I only got two interviews.”
Financial effects: “We live a very simple, happy life. We live off the income of my husband, a Jewish book dealer, in an old firehouse. We live upstairs and the books are downstairs.”
Seeking an outlet: “It’s hard to swallow that nobody wants the skill sets that I have. My husband says, ‘You’re one of the most creative people I’ve ever known. I’m so sorry you don’t have a place to put it.’ I have to make a decision about whether to be happy with my lot. I am. But there is a wistfulness. It used to be a resentment. Now it’s just like, I wish I could have done a little more.”
Becoming an artist: “During all of this, I started making art. Suddenly people asked to borrow my art for exhibitions. There was one at Hebrew Union College that got a lot of press. Recently I had a show at a synagogue in Amherst. All without, frankly, too much effort. It was like, whoa, suddenly I’m an artist. But it hasn’t resulted in any income yet.”
Jane Trigere on Switching Gears