Miriam began painting…
at age 12 when she enrolled in classes with May Stevens, a New York feminist painter, at the Children’s Painting Workshop in White Plains, New York. By the time Miriam was in high school, Stevens’ husband, Rudolf Baranik, invited her to study at his painting studio for adults. Miriam was a quiet young woman, and at times felt unwelcome by the older students, yet she took the classes seriously and became immersed in the art of painting.
While Rudolf only painted in black and white, he excelled at encouraging the different painting styles of his students. One of his techniques was to set up a still life scene — an odd mix of draped fabric, a chair, a bottle, and a plaster cast head of a Greek sculpture, for example. Nothing matched and nothing related to each other. But out of these scenes, his students learned to build a composition with personal meaning.
As a student at City College, Miriam went on to paint with the Harlem Renaissance painter, Charles Alston, and during her summers, again with Rudolf Baranik. As she says, “We were a band of Baranik followers, and I thrived with the classes and the people who took them.”
During this time, Miriam began to paint pictures of people with objects that were evocative of them. Her portraits revealed her subjects surrounded by the things they loved; by the things that reminded Miriam of them.
In the decades since, Miriam has painted portraits of several family members in her unique style, as shared on this site. Although she knew every person portrayed here, no one sat for the painting. Miriam created these artworks in the manner that she has developed throughout her life: in oil paint, using objects, stories, and photos as inspiration, and guided by teachers who fostered her talent as a young artist