MIRIAM MIASNIK BRYSK, Ph.D.
Professor-Scientist / Artist-Writer-Poet-Lecturer on the Holocaust
HOLOCAUST and LIFE EXPERIENCES
I was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1935. After the German occupation of Poland in 1939, my family escaped to the city of Lida in Belarus (in the Soviet Union). We came under Germans rule after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, and ghetto inmates later that fall. In the ghetto massacre of May 8, 1942, most of the Lida Jews were shot; my family was initially selected to die but we were later spared because the Germans needed my father's surgical skills to operate on wounded German soldiers. In the summer of 1942, I was given away to a Christian woman in response to a rumor that all Jewish children would be killed; I returned to the ghetto when the rumor proved false. In November 1942, Jews in the Russian partisans rescued us from the ghetto and brought us to the nearby Lipiczany forest. In early 1943, a partisan hospital was established in a remote part of the forest, with my father as chief of staff. To protect me from rape by the Russian partisans, I was turned into a boy, my hair was shaved and I wore boy's clothing. On my eighth birthday, I was given a pistol of my own. We were liberated in June 1944. Later that year we escaped Belarus to central Poland. Traveling as refugees, we traversed most of central Europe to flee the invading Soviets. Soldiers in the Jewish Brigade from Palestine brought us to Italy, where we stayed for nearly two years. I came to America in February 1947, as I turned 12. I came with no knowledge of English or previous schooling and I had a lot of catching up to do. Nevertheless, I finished high school at 17 and college at NYU at 20, and married Henry Brysk (a physicist and professor) and Holocaust survivor from France. We have two daughters, Judy (a physician) and Havi (a psychologist and artist), and five grandchildren.
-1955 B.S., New York University (Biology/Chemistry)
-1958 M.S., University of Michigan (Microbiology)
-1967 Ph.D., Columbia University (Biological and Biomedical Sciences)
-Professor in 3 medical school departments (Dermatology, Microbiology, and Biochemistry)
-Director of the Dermatology Research Laboratory, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
-85 published peer reviewed scientific research manuscripts
-Professor Emeritus 2001
1. Brysk, Miriam: Holocaust Hospital in the Forests of White Russia, Medical Humanities Reviews, Vol. 12, Number 1, 23-39, 1998
2. Brysk, Miriam Miasnik: Life in the Shadows, Prism, Volume 3, 27-28, 2011
3. Brysk, Miriam Miasnik: Jewish Family Life in the Lipiczany Forest, Prism, Volume 3, 31-36, 2011
PUBLISHED HOLOCAUST BOOKS
1. Miriam M. Brysk: Amidst the Shadows of Trees: A Holocaust Child’s Survival in the Partisans, with Introduction by Michael Berenbaum. Gihon River Press, 2013
-Awarded in 2013 by the Florida Authors and Publishers Association: The Gold Medal for Best Adult Nonfiction & A Silver Medal for Best Autobiography
-Awarded in 2014 by the Independent Publishers of New England: Best Narrative Nonfiction book
2. Miriam M. Brysk and Margaret G. Lincoln: The Stones Weep: Teaching the Holocaust through a Survivor’s Art, Gihon River Press, 2014
-Awarded in 2014, by the Independent Publishers of New England: Book of the Year & Academic Award for academic excellence
3. Miriam M. Brysk: Etched in My Memory: Reflections of a Holocaust Survivor, with Introduction by Michael Berenbaum. Gihon River Press, 2015.
4. Chapter on Miriam Brysk in Women of Valor: Polish Resisters to the Third Reich by Joanne D. Gilbert Gihon River Press, 2014
-Awarded in 2015, by the Florida Authors and Publishers Association: The Gold Medal for Biography
5. Miriam M. Brysk and Joanne D. Gilbert: Victory for Miriam. A book of Miriam Brysk’s life for middle school children - In preparation
I have been a frequent speaker on the Holocaust in High Schools, Colleges and Universities, Jewish Community Centers, Churches, Art Centers and libraries. I have also been a Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) keynote speaker in several large cities.
SPECIAL HOLOCAUST PRESENTATIONS
A. In 2011, I created the presentation - Survival in the Russian Partisans in response to interest in Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. It has been presented at:
-2012 Presented In conjunction with the "Pictures of Resistance" exhibit at the Hatcher Graduate Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
-2012 At the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers' Program in Washington DC (sponsored by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their descendants)
-2012-present: Lectures in a course on the Holocaust by Prof. Martin Shichtman at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI
Lectures in course on the Holocaust by Prof. Elliot Ginsburg, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
-2014 Workshop presentation at the conference From Generation to Generation --The Legacy Continues. It celebrated the Holocaust with “Survivors, Liberators, and Righteous among the Nations and the Second and Third Generations”. The conference was organized by Nassau Holocaust and Tolerance Center and held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
-2014 26th Annual Teen Symposium on the Holocaust at Marywood University, Scranton, PA
-2014 In conjunction with the "Pictures of Resistance" Janice Charach Epstein Gallery, Jewish Community. Center, West Bloomfield, MI
-2014, 2015, 2016 Albion College, Albion, MI
-2015 Jewish Community, Flint, MI
-2015 Invited Presenter of the Norman Cohn Family Holocaust Remembrance and Education Lecture at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IO.
-2017 Bowling Green University, Bowling Green, Ohio
B. In 2013, I created the presentation- “The Art and Artist during the Holocaust”. It has been presented at:
-2014 Jewish Community Center, Ann Arbor, MI.
-2015 Albion College, Albion, MI
-2015 University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IO.
After I retired in Dec 2000 from my career as a scientist and professor at the University of Texas, I moved to Ann Arbor, MI in 2001 to pursue my dreams of becoming an artist and writer on the Holocaust. In 2002, I returned with a group headed by Professor Zvi Gittelman to Eastern Europe to view the remnants of the ghettos, camps and killing fields of the Holocaust. I cried my way throughout the entire trip, as the gaping wounds from my past reopened. I allowed the pain of those memories to again be felt, as I remembered my own experiences and those in my own family who perished. Their faces have haunted me my entire life. I felt a deep need to portray their suffering and return to them their dignity as Jews; the dignity denied them by the Germans. On that trip, I made a pact with myself and with God that I would devote my remaining life to commemorating the Jews who perished in the Holocaust. What followed since were three major art exhibits on the Holocaust.
Below are the art exhibits I created:
1. In a Confined Silence 2004 – a 40-piece exhibit on the plight of individual Jews during the Holocaust.
2. Children of the Holocaust 2008 – a 27-piece exhibit on the plight of individual Jewish children.
3. Scroll of Remembrance 2013 – a 14- piece exhibit on Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust.
To recreate memory through art, I use photographs of actual Jews who perished, including those in my own family. I chose to use digital art in order to preserve the faces of the actual victims. My art combines the starkness of photography with the graphic power of the computer to create an art form that combines narrative realism with impressionism. Each work is accompanied by a historical perspective of its meaning within the events and phases of the Holocaust. People who have viewed my art seemed moved by the emotions contained in the imagery and intrigued with the digital tools I used to create them.
In addition to Holocaust art, I enjoy creating abstract works, in both color and black and white. These more whimsical and happy pieces express the gratitude and joy I now feel: to have survived the Holocaust, to have been blessed with a loving family (my husband Henry, daughters Judy and Havi, and five grandchildren), and to have had the opportunity to live a full and creative life, on my own terms, as a passionate individualist.
Grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation to create a travelling exhibit of In a Confined Silence.
ART IN PERMANENT COLLECTIONS
1. Three of my works from In a Confined Silence are part of the Holocaust art collection of Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum of Israel). One work, Mama and I, is included in a book published by Yad Vashem: Virtues of Memory: Six Decades of Holocaust Survivor’s Creativity, 418-419, 2010
2. Two works from In a Confined Silence are part of the collection of the Judaic Studies Center at Eastern Michigan University.
3. Two works from In a Confined Silence are part of the collection of the Norman Cohn Family Holocaust Remembrance and Education Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education, University of Northern Iowa
4. Three works are part of the collection of the Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Central Florida, Maitland, FL
I am one of several Holocaust artists honored in April of 2014 at the Detroit Institute of Art.
SOLO ART EXHIBITS
36. 2017 In a Confined Silence, Federal Building, Battle Creek, MI for Yom HaShoah
35. 2016 Scroll of Remembrance, Federal Building, Battle Creek, MI for Yom HaShoah
34. 2015 Scroll of Remembrance, Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Central Florida, Maitland, FL
33. 2015 Scroll of Remembrance, Grout Museum in Waterloo IA, as part of the Norman Cohn Family Holocaust Remembrance and Education Lecture at Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education, University of Northern, IA
32. 2015 Scroll of Remembrance, Children of the Holocaust and In a Confined Silence, Albion College, Albion, MI
31. 2014 Scroll of Remembrance, American Jewish Librarians National Conference, Las Vegas, NV
30. 2014 Scroll of Remembrance , Battle Creek Art Center, Battle Creek, MI
Forty teachers & 1200 high school students from Western Michigan viewed this exhibit
28. 2014 Scroll of Remembrance, Holocaust Center, Las Vegas, NV
27. 2013 Scroll of Remembrance, World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust Conference, Las Vegas, NV
26. 2013 Children of the Holocaust, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston, TX
25. 2011 In a Confined Silence, in conjunction with "Pictures of Resistance" exhibit and talks on Jewish partisans during the Holocaust, Hatcher Graduate Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
24. 2011 Children of the Holocaust, Rockford College, Rockford, IL
23. 2010 Children of the Holocaust, Plymouth Community Art Center, Plymouth, MI
22. 2010 Children of the Holocaust, Samuel Lutheran Church, Muskegon, MI
21. 2010 Children of the Holocaust, Milwaukee Holocaust Memorial Center, Milwaukee, WI
20. 2010 Children of the Holocaust, Artworks Gallery and Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI Exhibit in conjunction with Art of The Holocaust Series at Ferris State University
19. 2009 Children of the Holocaust, Temple Israel, Canton OH
18. 2009 Children of the Holocaust, the Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Central Florida, Maitland, FL
17. 2009 Children of the Holocaust, Dexter Library, Dexter, MI
16. 2008 Children of the Holocaust, Holocaust Museum and Memorial Center, Farmington Hills, MI
15. 2008 Children of the Holocaust, Hamburg Community Library, Hamburg, MI
14. 2008 Children of the Holocaust, Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek, MI
13. 2007 In a Confined Silence, Battle Creek Art Center, Battle Creek, MI
12. 2006 In a Confined Silence, The Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Central Florida, Maitland, FL
11. 2006 In a Confined Silence, Plymouth Community Art Center, Plymouth, MI
10. 2006 In a Confined Silence, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston, TX
09. 2005 In a Confined Silence, Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center, Miami, FL
08. 2005 In a Confined Silence, W. K. Kellogg Foundation Gallery, Battle Creek, MI.
Exhibit in conjunction with US Holocaust Museum Exhibit “Life in Shadows” in Battle Creek, MI
07. 2005 In a Confined Silence, Alfred Berkowitz Gallery, University of Michigan, Dearborn, MI Exhibit was shown in conjunction with the Voice/Vision Holocaust Oral History Archive
06. 2005 In a Confined Silence, Hillel Student Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
05. 2005 Transitions, Pfizer Global Research and Development Center, Ann Arbor, MI
04. 2005 In a Confined Silence, Janice Charach Epstein Gallery, Jewish Community. Center, West Bloomfield, MI
03. 2004 In a Confined Silence, Amster Gallery, Jewish Community Center, Ann Arbor, MI.
Sponsored by the Bobbie and Myron Levine Jewish Community Center Cultural Art Fund
02. 2003 Blessings, Amster Gallery, Jewish Community Center, Ann Arbor, MI
01. 2001 Spirit, Moody Medical Gallery, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX