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Milena Pribis biography

Milena Pribis was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in 1956. Her first "group show" came at age six. At age 10 she won first prize in a citywide childrens' art exhibition. Later that year she and her mother traveled to Israel, ostensibly on vacation. As they set out on their trip, Milena's mother was compelled to inform onlooking neighbors that the bags they packed contained only dirty laundry for the local Laundromat.

Upon their arrival in Israel, Milena learned for the first time from her mother that they were Jews. They left a year later, literally on the eve of the 1967 Six Day War, and rejoined her father in a refugee camp in Italy after he too had succeeded in escaping from their Communist homeland. Milena and her mother emigrated to the U.S. in 1968 and lived for a year with relatives in Miami Beach before once more rejoining her father, this time in Queens, New York.

Milena attended the New York High School of Art and Design, and received a diploma from Boston's Museum School in 1980. For the past 16 years she has lived in Concord, Massachusetts, where she continues to make art as well as teach art to children. Her works are held in numerous public and private collections throughout the world.

Milena's mother Jolanda, who died in December 1995 at age 76, was born in Broumov, Sudetenland. During WWII she lived in hiding for two years after her escaping from the Janowski concentration camp. She and her sister were the sole European survivors of a large extended family. After the war the newly-installed Communist regime resituated her in Czechoslovakia, where she studied medicine and became an M.D. Emigrating to the U.S. voided her medical credentials, and so at age 50 she returned to medical studies, this time to become a Psychiatric M.D. She spent the rest of her professional life working at various veterans' hospitals as a psychiatrist while also living in Residents' apartments on the grounds of these hermetical VA complexes, overseeing the psychiatric needs of WWII veterans who in every sense of the word were prisoners. Hers was one of the few voices pressing for the patients' needs to be allowed to go outside on occasion. Her final fourteen years of service to the U.S. government were spent at the F.D.R. Memorial Veterans Hospital in Montrose, New York.

Milena's father Milan was born in Backa Palanka, Yugoslavia, and died in February, 1994. He was raised as a Lutheran, and -- typical to much of Europe even today -- an anti-Semite. During WWII he fought in the Yugoslav Air Force as well as in the underground resistance movement, ultimately to be captured, beaten and tortured by the Hungarian Gestapo for several weeks before his release. As an émigré to the U.S. he was allowed to work as an engineer for Precision Instrument Corporation in Queens, a military subcontractor.

Today, Milena lives in Bratislava, Slovakia, with her husband Robert Davidson, their American Cocker Spaniel, Charlie; their rescue cat, Lilly; and two parakeets who love each other very much.


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