Farago Gyorgy (2002) by Maria Frank Abrams
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JUN 24, 2015


Early and Late Memories: The Art of Maria Frank Abrams opens Sunday, June 28 at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) in Pan Pacific Park. A survey of the Holocaust-inspired art of survivor Maria Frank Abrams (1924-2013), the exhibit opens with a reception at 1:00 p.m., which will include talks by exhibit curator Matthew Kangas and the artist’s son, Edward Abrams, a human rights lawyer living in Jerusalem.

Maria Frank Abrams was born in Hungary in 1924. She survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen camps, but 33 members of her family perished in the Holocaust. Abrams immigrated to the United States in 1948 and studied art at the University of Washington. She lived for many years in Seattle, where she drew inspiration from the tranquil landscapes and changing light. Her impressive eye and remarkable survival experience combined to produce elegant, vivid, and striking pieces of art. Her art is currently on display in several museums, including the Seattle Art Museum and Yad Vashem.

The exhibit at LAMOTH includes sixteen paintings, drawings, prints and photo-collages from several private collections representing the artist’s earliest and latest expressions. Torn between depicting the Holocaust and celebrating the beauty of her postwar home in Seattle, Abrams alternately embraced and denied the impact of her World War II experiences on her art. Included in the exhibit are four photo-collages commissioned by the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle in 2002, when Abrams was honored at the museum’s annual Raoul Wallenberg Dinner. The photo-collages, which are the apex of the artist’s confrontation with her Holocaust experiences, depict four family members who perished and employ precious family archival material including photographs, postcards and letters.  

At a time when few were interested in hearing about the Holocaust, Abrams grappled with confronting her memories and adapting to American cultural life. To do this, she also made prints, murals, mosaics, and designed sets for the first production of the new Seattle Opera, among other theatrical designs, costumes and sets.The LAMOTH exhibit is accompanied by a 138-page full-color hardbound volume, Burning Forest: The Art of Maria Abrams, by curator Matthew Kangas. 

Kangas has published numerous other books, reviews, monographs, and catalogues. He is corresponding editor for Art in America and has been a freelance contributor to Seattle Times, Sculpture, Art Ltd., and American Ceramics. The exhibit runs through August 31.

LAMOTH is the oldest Holocaust museum in the United States.  It was founded in 1961 by a group of local Holocaust Survivors who wanted a permanent, safe home for their Holocaust-era photos and artifacts. The Museum moved to its permanent home in Pan Pacific Park in 2010. LAMOTH dedicates itself as a primary source institution, commemorating those who perished, honoring those who survived, and housing the precious artifacts that miraculously weathered the Holocaust era. LAMOTH provides free Holocaust education to the public, including students from under-funded schools and under-served communities.