Born in a center of culture, Dresden, Germany, S. M., however, never had the privilege to live in that vibrant city after age four, when she and her family were forced to leave. It was mere luck that as a small child, she and her family escaped the Allied bombing of Dresden, where the family lost everything. The Russians approached, her father was in the war, so her mother, she and her two brothers (2, 4 and 9 years old) joined the trek of refugees walking south for weeks, passing through several refugee camps, until they were taken in by generous relatives near Augsburg, Bavaria, where they started a new life. The devastating consequences of the war, the total destruction and the resulting utmost poverty were the background of her generation’s childhood which had an indelible influence on the rest of her life.
Many restless moves took her to several countries, among them Egypt, Palestine, Italy, Canada, Mexico and the US. In Germany she studied foreign languages and after earning her interpreter’s diploma in French and English, she was hired by The Siemens Co. in Erlangen, where she also started private evening classes of drawing with a professor from the Nürnberg Art Academy.
In 1962, she was transferred to the New York offices of Siemens Co. and started evening art classes at the Art Students League with Theodoros Stamos. Upon earning a scholarship for a painting class and later an Allen Tucker Merit Scholarship, she switched to full-time studies at the ASL with Sidney Gross and later with Vaçlav Vytlacil, her main influence — he was not only an outstanding artist, but one of those rare teachers who, other than having the gift of knowing how to pass on their knowledge to students, really loved to teach. Vytlacil also was instrumental in getting Hans Hofmann to come to the US.
Vaçlav Vytlacil at the Art Students League, New York
While studying at the A.S.L., she worked at the Rizzoli International Bookstore (then still located on Fifth Avenue in New York), where she was in charge of the German book department. At the same time, she began to show her work in various galleries in the US. In 1974, she moved to Milan, Italy, with her husband, an Italian journalist, and her 3 year-old son; she later lived and worked for over 10 years in Tuscany with her son, Sergio, today a concert flutist.
During her years in Siena, Tuscany, she completed “Twelve Ladies of the Italian Renaissance”, a series of intricate ‘transcriptions’ in Batik on silk, taking famous ladies in paintings of the Italian Renaissance, her favorite period in art, as subjects. These works on silk have been incorporated into twelve large quilted wall hangings. Also still in Italy, she produced a large series (appr. 300 pieces) of small abstract works on paper, her “Jazz-Series“. They are the result of two years of isolation within the walls of a splendid 17th Century Palazzo in Vicenza (Veneto), where she was hired as companion to a wealthy lady who had been diagnosed with beginning Alzheimer’s disease. In 1995, she returned permanently to the U.S. and became a US citizen. In 1999, the University of Southern Maine, Portland, invited her to teach a course ‘The Art of Collage’. She has now settled in New Haven, CT, as one of the lucky first residents of New Haven’s work/live artists residence, ARLOW (ArtLoftsWest), brainchild of Thea Buxbaum. In 2006, she was elected Guild Member at the Silvermine Guild of Artists in New Canaan, CT.