Coping through art | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Coping through art 

Fei (Brenner) Skinkis, like many of us, was overwhelmed with emotion in the weeks after Oct. 7. 

When she woke up in the middle of the night, distressed, she realized she needed an outlet. Having set painting aside a year earlier, because life had gotten busy, she picked it back up and started putting images from her mind onto canvas. 

“It’s a healthier outlet than just being frozen,” she said. 

First, she painted a family embracing in a home, with a tear falling from the mother’s eye, symbolic of Oct. 7 (see cover). “The image was stuck in my head, and I just needed to get it out,” she said. 

“This came out as just representing, partly that day,” she said, and partly “representing Israel and the Jewish people.” 

Skinkis has been so driven that she paints during her day job as a teacher at Jewish Beginnings – Lubavitch Preschool, in Fox Point. She fits time for artwork in during students’ nap time.  Then she brings it all home and paints at home. 

Next, she painted a woman and children in a tunnel, just before some hostages were released, then painted more. 

“It’s just representing what I needed to get out,” she said. “I felt like I needed to keep going.” 

Her note 

In November, Skinkis wrote this note to pair with her art: 

In a time where the world is confused, where up is down, and left is right, the only thing I can think to do, is paint. 

In a time when people are dying, children have been stolen out of their beds, posters ripped to shreds, the only thing we can do, is pray. 

So that’s what I’m doing, painting and praying. 

May the hostages that returned home alive, heal quickly. 

May the hostages that are confirmed to be in Heavan, be caressed in God’s arms. 

May our missing loved ones be revealed, returning home as soon as possible. 

For better or for worse, let us know the unknowns, bring them home. 

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Art by Fei Skinkis, painted after the attacks of Oct. 7.