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.
Published in The Seattle Times from Apr. 1 to Apr. 7, 2013.