University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Fay Grajower

About the Artist

Fay Grajower studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds an MA in Studio Art from New York University.  Her works have been featured in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and Mexico, including Boston, Washington, DC, New York, Morelia, Guadalajara and Mexico City.  Grajower also exhibited in Lugano, Switzerland, as well as Berlin, Bielefeld, Gera and Potsdam in Germany.  She was an artist-in-residence in Florida, Israel and Germany, and has several commissioned pieces, including a painted sculpted glass installation at the Jewish Community Center of Wilmington, Delaware; a Holocaust Memorial Sculpture Installation at the B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton; and an installation for the International Women’s Research Center at Brandeis University. 

For more information visit Fay Grajowler's website.

Artist Statement

Central to my work is the combination of history and the unconscious elements of an inherited memory that shape our lives.  While my work is abstract, it contains figurative and iconographic elements that infuse my personal visual vocabulary with a narrative quality.  An atmosphere of space and light is created for each viewer's perceptions of history and memory.

In my current works, I deliberately form grids superimposed over multiple layered papers or works on canvas or glass.  In making a surface structure, a grid over what is, new shapes and forms emerge taking into account what was.  Some get hidden, some fade, some are reinforced.

Nowadays, tragedies changed our lives.  Overwhelming emotions enter the process as an added factor to the materials used in making these pieces.  A transformation has occurred.  The materials used to build a structure - a community - have been deconstructed.  In this destruction, the material has been dematerialized.

In my work I incorporate words as a layer and as a kind of grid.  This is a graphic element as well as a visual tool in referencing the state of our world today.

At the end of the day, what legacies do we leave our children, materially and spiritually?  What tools and structure do we give them as citizens of the world?  What are the freedoms we enjoy and under what framework do these works survive?

The whole is made up of little parts.  The small pieces make up the whole.  We face a new history and a new memory.  Our memory today is the inherited memory and collective memory of the future.  We have great challenges before us.

Fay Grajower

Boston 2005

Below is a poem that best illustrates how Grajower feels about her work.

How Does One Remember

How does one remember what one never knew?

How does one forget what one never knew?

traces of photographs

recall the never seen

snatches of words

revive the never heard

history of memory

memory of history

It is the history of the future

and the future of history

that is the present.

How does one remember?

How dare one forget!

©Fay Grajower

About the Work

Boston artist Fay Grajower’s paintings provide viewers with some essential questions about art by the “second generation” of Holocaust survivors, and also about art related to the Holocaust in general. 

VD 48Grajower’s family history is important in knowing how she approaches a negative past and uses art as a palliative.  Her mother and two of her siblings escaped from the Netherlands on a ship called the Excambion to the United States via Lisbon.  The boat that appears in her paintings however, is the Volendam 48.  One of the last to leave Rotterdam, VD 48 carried a friend who was the family’s physician.  Both of these boats have become metaphors for the period—arks for saving the Jewish people from Europe’s descent into the abyss under German occupation.

Read the complete article by Dr. Stephen Feinstein: Arks and Shadows(PDF)




Volendam 8, oil on canvas, 65" x 48" 2007
Volendam 8

Volendam 6, oil on canvas, 50 " x 42" 1992
Volendam 6

History fo the Memory of a Photograph

History of the Memory of a Photograph,
acrylic, oil, photographs on vinyl,
50” x 65” 1990


Lift the Fog, oil and mixed media on canvas, 46" x 46" 2007
Lift the Fog

Like a Firebrand Saved From the Flames, oil on paper, 25” x 31” 2007
Like a Firebrand Saved From the Flames

The Vast Blue, oil oncanvas, 46” x 46” 2007
The Vast Blue

Myth and Memory, oil and plaster on canvas, 48" x 24" 2007
Myth and Memory

A Bessere Velt, Triptych, oil on canvas, 93” x 47” 2007
A Bessere Velt

Falling into the Future, mixed media on wood, 35" x 30" 2006
Falling into the Future


If These Stones Could Talk, oil, pencil and collage on paper, 18" x 25" 2006
If These Stones Could Talk

Symphony of Stones, oil, plaster and wood on canvas, 48" x 79" 2001
Symphony of Stones

Indifference, oil and collage on paper, 25" x 18" 2007

Jerusalem Encounters, oil and collage on canvas, 67" x 74"
Jerusalem encounters

A Better World, mixed media on handmade paper, 32" x 24" 2006
A better World

Just One Wish, mixed media on canvas, 52" x 37" 2006
Just One Wish


Images with permission of the artist. Page updated 2012.