Maria Frank Abrams
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Maria Frank Abrams

Artist Maria (Marika) Frank Abrams was born in 1924 in Debrecen, Hungary, where she grew up until she was deported to Auschwitz with her entire extended family in mid-1944. Among those deported, only she and one cousin survived.

She drew and painted throughout her entire life. Even as a slave laborer in a branch of the

Buchenwald concentration camp,

she sketched whenever her fellow Jewish slave laborers managed to get her paper and stubs of pencils.

Starving, with shaved head and rags wrapped around her feet for shoes, Maria was liberated by American troops at Magdeburg in April 1945. Three years later, thanks to a Hillel Foundation scholarship, Maria was a freshman at the University of Washington School of Art. She earned her BFA summa cum laude in 1951 and upon graduation became a regular exhibitor in the prestigious Otto Seligman Gallery with such legendary artists as Mark Tobey, Guy Anderson, Fay Chong, Herbert Siebner and George Tsutakawa. Richard Fuller, Director of SAM, was an early purchaser of her art.

Abrams' career is the subject of a scholarly monograph by art critic Matthew Kangas and of essays by historians Peter Selz and Deborah Lipstadt in BURNING FOREST: THE ART OF MARIA FRANK ABRAMS, published by the Museum of Northwest Art, a book that includes numerous reproductions of her work.

Professor Lipstadt writes: "Nothing can return to her the family members who were killed. Nothing can mitigate the horrors of her experience. Yet the beauty of the work she has produced in the ensuing years is a testimony to the way in which she has embraced life with resilience, dedication and grace."

Marika is survived by her husband of 64 years, Sydney Abrams; her son, Edward (Eliahu) Frank Abrams, a human rights lawyer in Israel; daughter-in-law Tali Bdolah Abrams; grandchildren Omri and Noga Vilma; and cousins Vera Federman, of Mercer Island, Agnes Jacobson of Santa Barbara, and Lewis Rose of Sydney Australia.

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Published in The Seattle Times from Apr. 1 to Apr. 7, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Her son
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9 entries
May 15, 2016
Thank you. So honored to have known you.
You very much impressed my parents, and several of your paintings graced my childhood home.
You and Syd warmly welcomed me into your home for a meal, after Syd and I bicycled around the island. Special time. Grateful. Shalom
Fred D
August 3, 2013
God Bless you Maria...
Janet White
August 3, 2013
I did not know Maria personally but I adore her work and have one of her casein pieces....May God keep her close to him...she's home now.
Janet White
April 14, 2013
Marika Abrams was for our family a generous and loyal friend, provider of affection and elegant dinners for us and our mothers. We admired (and acquired)several of her paintings. Need I add that she had a fully achieved professional career as a painter without the benefit of that embarrassing sobriquet "woman painter"? When I taught at University of Washington a course on the literature of the Holocaust I invited her to speak to the class about her experience in the killing center of Auschwitz. It was for most of the students an enlightening and compelling experience, and for a few something that helped to determine the course of their lives.
Marika's life was deeply affected by the two Jewish experiences of biblical magnitude that occurred within just a few years of each other: the destruction of European Jewry and the foundation of the state of Israel, where her son and his family now live. She was caught up in the last stage of Europe's campaign to cleanse itself of Jews, the final version of that ever-shortening sentence stretched over centuries. The missionaries of Christianity had said: "You have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed them had said: You have no right to live among us. The German Nazis at last decreed: "You have no right to live." Just a few years after the destruction of Hungarian Jewry (the last large Jewish population to be reached by the Nazis) came the establishment of the state of Israel, one of the few redeeming events in a century of blood and shame; and Marika (who understood that Israel came into being not because of the Holocaust but in spite of it) had the satisfaction of living long enough to see her own son embody this uniquely powerful affirmation of the will to live by a martyred people.
Baruch dayan emet.
Edward Alexander
April 9, 2013
My family & I offer our heartfelt condolences. Maria touched many lives, and is deeply missed. May the God of all comfort be with you all during this time of intense grief, and always. So very sorry for your loss.
April 8, 2013
I am a huge fan of hers. I wish I had known her.
Nancy Nye
April 6, 2013
I am honored to have known Maria. She
was a gracious neighbor and friend. I
send my sincerest condolences to her
family. Sincerely, Linda J. Keeler, a
former neighbor on West Mercer Way,
Mercer Island.
Linda Keeler
April 1, 2013
Marie Frank Abrams knew he beauty of God's creation and it hsowed in her art..."Everything he has made pretty in its time." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
With sympathy,
April 1, 2013
the greatness of maria's art is only outweighed by the inspiration of her life and conduct toward others. her life touched on major events of the past century yet her life was dedicated to creativity and compassion. to make art for her was to affirm life and deny evil.
matthew kangas
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