Chris Tanz

Chris Tanz
Born 1944 in Warsaw, Poland She was born in the Soviet-occupied zone of Warsaw to parents who had spent the war passing as Gentiles to escape Nazi persecution.


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Chris Tanz, age 12.
Henryk Tanz, Chris’s father, practiced law in Poland before the Holocaust.
Chris’s mother, Regina Wiernicka Tanz. She and Henryk met in Krakow and married on September 4, 1939—three days after Germany invaded Poland.
Chris’s grandparents perished in the Holocaust. Pictured here are her maternal grandparents, Maurycy Wienicki and Marima Garfinkel Wiernicka.
Henryk forged identity papers for himself, his wife, and other family members so they could pass as Gentiles. He was using the name Mieczyslaw Swiecicki when Chris was born. She was six years old before she learned that her last name was actually Tanz.
The ticket receipt for passage across the Atlantic to the United States. It shows the ages of Chris and her brother, Mark—7 and 3 respectively. The abbreviation “APat” refers to their status as stateless refugees.
The Tanz family sailed to the United States aboard La Liberté.
Chris (right) with her brother, Mark, and their mother aboard the ship that brought them to the United States.
At the age of 12, Chris became a U.S. citizen along with her parents and brother. Her father had been a lawyer in Poland before the war, but as an immigrant, he found work in the garment industry, cutting fabric for dresses.
Chris’s U.S. citizenship papers.
The Tanz family moved to Chicago, where Chris excelled in school and was later admitted to Harvard/Radcliffe.
Chris didn’t think of herself as a Holocaust survivor until she attended a college reunion and was made aware that many others shared the experience of having been born into war-torn countries. She contributed a chapter to this book, which was edited by former classmates.
Chris wrote An Egg to Sit On to help children develop the ability to adopt someone else’s point of view. It was first published in 1978.
An Egg to Sit On was reprinted with new illustrations in 1990.
Chris’s son, Phillipe, reading to his cousins from the children’s book she wrote.
Chris became a public artist in Tucson, Arizona. 'Many Color Mountain' was a collaboration with two other Tucson artists. She says that after her early life of being uprooted, public art is her way to grow roots in her community.
Chris’s public art installation 'Joining Hands,' near the Julian Wash greenway in Tucson, depicts her vision of community: people joining hands in friendship. She was inspired by a design on a 1,000-year-old Hohokam pot found in the area. Pictured are Chris, her husband Jean-Paul Bierny, and the crew of masons who installed the work.
Chris designed 'Sun Circle' to be a solar calendar. As the Earth revolves around the sun, the light shines through cuts in the walls and casts different shadows.
'Silver Linings' is a public art piece created by Chris for the Tucson International Airport. She says as travelers are carried along the moving walkway, they can feel as if they’re rising above the clouds.
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