Mary Etta Moore
Mary Etta Moore, seventy-four, passed away on the morning of Monday, September 19th. Born to Hal and Winifred Moore in Flint, Michigan in 1947, she moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1969, and raised two children, whom she is survived by, Miranda and Jeremy Moore Wilgus. She is also survived by her sister, Kathleen Moore, and a myriad of cousins and friends. After her divorce in 1980, she raised her children as a single mother, and as a professional artist, two things that were incredibly difficult in the 1980s. She made sure her children were surrounded by family, and community, and did her best to raise them while building a network of support that they rely on to this day. If she were only the mother that raised her children, and held her door open to other members of the community, that would have been enough. She was so much more, accomplished so much more. As a member of the Congregation of Moses, her exploration and enthusiasm for Judaism and its teachings gave focus to her myriad artistic gifts. She became fascinated by the art of papercutting, embracing and revolutionizing the art. Her early papercuts were of Judaic prayers, with intricate calligraphy brought forth from a blank sheet of paper with only a modeling knife and intense skill and creativity. As her technique grew, so did her art, visually depicting the stories Judaism holds most dear. Her most significant work was a series based on the major Jewish holidays, thirteen pieces in total, with her pieces for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Passover, and T’sha B’av remaining some of the most striking artistic depictions of the Jewish faith ever committed to paper, in any art form. Her art celebrated the sense of community she found in Judaism, and cultivating, encouraging that community was yet another passion of hers. Active for years in Kalamazoo’s Congregation of Moses, she helped spearhead efforts to hold community seders to mark the first night of Passover, organizing and cooking dinner for over 250 members of the congregation. She was instrumental in the community’s observance of Holocaust Memorial Day, and was active in the synagogue’s Hebrew school as well, turning her artistic talents to creating educational materials for the classroom. She traveled, often with her children, to art shows across the nation. She believed that art should be accessible to all, with the belief that art and faith had a place in the home as well as in museums and places of worship. While she has left us, her spirit lives on in the hearts of those she touched, and in her children, whom she raised to treasure creativity, serving the community, and making the world a better place than they found it. In lieu of flowers, she requested that donations be made in her memory to ACA Consumer Advocacy, a non-profit co-founded by her daughter Miranda, to help fund its mission to improve access to quality healthcare for all.