Resume

MiriamPortrait

 Miriam Miasnik Brysk

Professor-Scientist/Artist-Writer-Poet-Lecturer on the Holocaust

3032 Cedarbrook Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Holocaust and Life Experiences

I was born in Warsaw. Poland in 1935. After German occupation in 1939, my family escaped to Lida in Belarus. The Nazis attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, and in December, they established the Lida ghetto. In the ghetto massacre of May 8, 1942, most of the Jews were shot; my family was initially selected to die but we were later spared because the Germans needed my father’s surgical skills. 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, Russian partisans rescued us from the ghetto and brought us to the Lipiczany forest. In early 1943, a partisan hospital was established in a remote part of the forest, with my father as chief of staff. My hair was shaved and I wore boy’s clothing to protect me from rape. On my eighth birthday I was given a pistol of my own. We were liberated in the summer of 1944 and my father was awarded the Order of Lenin for his medical contributions. Later that year we escaped to central Poland. Traveling as refugees, we traversed most of central Europe to flee the invading Soviets. Soldiers in the Jewish Brigade (Brichah) brought us to Italy, where we stayed for two years. I immigrated to America in February 1947, as I turned 12. I came with no previous formal education and I had a lot of catching up to do. Nevertheless, I finished high school at 17, and college at NYU at 20. I married Henry Brysk, a physicist and Holocaust survivor from France; we have two daughter (Judy and Havi, and 5 grandchildren). After obtaining my Ph.D. in biological sciences from Columbia University, I went on to become a scientist and professor in three departments (dermatology, biochemistry and microbiology) at the University of Texas Medical Branch (publishing some 85 scientific research manuscripts).  

Education

1955 B.S., New York University (Biology/Chemistry) 1958 M.S., University of Michigan (Microbiology) 1967 Ph.D., Columbia University (Biological and Biomedical Sciences)  

Scientific Experience

Professor in three departments (dermatology, microbiology, and biochemistry) at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 85 published scientific research manuscripts Professor Emeritus 2001  

Holocaust Publications

  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
  2. Miriam M. Brysk and Margaret G. Lincoln: The Stones Weep: Teaching the Holocaust through a Survivor’s Art, Gihon River Press, 2014
  3. Miriam M. Brysk: Etched in My Memory: Reflections of a Holocaust Survivor, with Introduction by Michael Berenbaum. Gihon River Press, in 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
 

Holocaust Presentations

I have been a frequent speaker on the Holocaust in High Schools, Colleges, and Universities, as well as in Jewish Community Centers, Churches, Art Centers and libraries. I have also been a Yom HaShoah keynote speaker in several large cities.  

Special Holocaust Presentations

In 2011, I created the presentation – Survival in the Russian Partisans in the Lipiczany Forest, in response to interest in Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. It has been presented at:
  1. 2012 Presented In conjunction with the “Pictures of Resistance” exhibit at the Hatcher Graduate Library, University of Michigan, Ann  Arbor, MI 

  2. 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)  

  3. Yearly lectures in a course on the Holocaust by Prof. Martin Shichtman at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI      

  4. Yearly lectures in course on the Holocaust by Prof. Elliot Ginsburg, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI        

  5. 2014 Workshop presentation on my experiences in the partisans, 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.  

  6. 2014 26th Annual Teen Symposium on the Holocaust at Marywood University, Scranton, PA            

  7.  2014 In conjunction with the “Pictures of Resistance” Janice Charach Epstein Gallery, Jewish Community. Center, West Bloomfield, MI         

  8. 2015  Albion College, Albion, MI                

  9. 2015  Albion College, Albion, MI     

  10. 2015  Yom Hashoah speaker, Flint, MI

  11. 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.

In 2013, I created the presentation- “The Art and Artist during the Holocaust”. It has been presented at:
  1. 2014 Jewish Community Center, Ann Arbor, MI. 2015 Albion College, Albion, MI
  2. 2015 Flint Art Center, Flint, MI
  3. 2015 Northern Iowa University
 

Artist statement

In 2000, I retired and I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to pursue my other dream – of becoming an artist and writer. As I had no previous formal art training, I joined the Alchemists, a group of local digital artists who helped me hone my graphic skills on the computer. In 2002, I returned (for the first time) to Eastern Europe to view the remnants of the ghettos and camps of the Holocaust. I cried my way through 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 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 to them by the Nazis. What followed over next several years were my memoir – Amidst the Shadows of Trees: A Holocaust Child’s Survival in the Partisans in 2007, a two large bodies of art -In a Confined Silence in 2005, and Children of the Holocaust in 2008. I have recently, (together with Margaret Lincoln), written a second book – The Stones Weep: Teaching the Holocaust through a Survivor’s Art. To recreate memory through art, I used photographs of actual Jews who perished, including those in my own family. The victims are displayed individually, one at a time, so as to personalize the Holocaust, as against the Germans who wanted to dehumanize the Jews. My art combines the starkness of photography with the graphic power of the computer to create an art form that combines narrative realism with expressionism. For maximum impact, the faces are visually simple and are frontally displayed -as in a poster. Each work is accompanied by a historical perspective of its meaning within the events and phases of the Holocaust. Students 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 that I now feel: to have survived the Holocaust, to have been blessed with a loving family, and to have had the opportunity to live a full life, on my own terms, as a passionate individualist.  

Art Grant

Grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation to create a travelling exhibit of In a Confined Silence  

Art in Permanent Collections

  1. Three works from In a Confined Silence are part of the Holocaust art collection of Yad Vashem. 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
 

Art Honor

I am one of several Holocaust artists honored in April of 2014 at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  

Solo Arts Exhibits

  1. 2015 Scroll of Remembrance, Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Central Florida, Maitland, FL
  2. 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
  3. 2015 Scroll of Remembrance, Albion College, Albion, MI 31. 2014 Scroll of Remembrance, American Jewish Librarians National Conference, Las Vegas, NV
  4. 2014 Scroll of Remembrance , Battle Creek Art Center, Battle Creek, MI ! 40 teachers & 1200 high school students from Western Michigan have viewed this exhibit
  5. 2014 Scroll of Remembrance, Jewish Community Center, Ann Arbor, MI
  6. 2014 Scroll of Remembrance, Holocaust Center, Las Vegas, NV
  7. 2013 Scroll of Remembrance, World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust Conference, Las Vegas, NV
  8. 2013 Children of the Holocaust, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston, TX
  9. 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
  10. 2011 Children of the Holocaust, Rockford College, Rockford, IL
  11. 2010 Children of the Holocaust, Plymouth Community Art Center, Plymouth, MI
  12. 2010 Children of the Holocaust, Samuel Lutheran Church, Muskegon, MI
  13. 2010 Children of the Holocaust, Milwaukee Holocaust Memorial Center, Milwaukee, WI
  14. 2010 Children of the Holocaust, Artworks Gallery and Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MIExhibit in conjunction with Art of The Holocaust Series at Ferris State University
  15. 2009 Children of the Holocaust, Temple Israel, Canton OH
  16. 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
  18. 2008 Children of the Holocaust, Holocaust Museum and Memorial Center, Farmington Hills, MI
  19. 2008 Children of the Holocaust, Hamburg Community Library, Hamburg, MI
  20. 2008 Children of the Holocaust, Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek, MI
  21. 2007 In a Confined Silence, Battle Creek Art Center, Battle Creek, MI
  22. 2006 In a Confined Silence, The Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Central Florida, Maitland, FL
  23. 2006 In a Confined Silence, Plymouth Community Art Center, Plymouth, MI
  24. 2006 In a Confined Silence, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston, TX
  25. 2005 In a Confined Silence, Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center, Miami, FL
  26. 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
  27. 2005 In a Confined Silence, Alfred Berkowitz Gallery, University of Michigan, Dearborn, MI. Exhibit shown in conjunction with the Voice/Vision Holocaust Oral History Archive.
  28. 2005 In a Confined Silence, Hillel Student Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
  29. 2005 Transitions, Pfizer Global Research and Development Center, Ann Arbor, MI
  30. 2005 In a Confined Silence, Janice Charach Epstein Gallery, Jewish Community. Center, West Bloomfield, MI
  31. 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
  32. 2003 Blessings, Amster Gallery, Jewish Community Center, Ann Arbor, MI
  33. 2001 Spirit, Moody Medical Gallery, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX