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Biographical/Historical Information

Hermine (Mimi) Fränkl was born in Vienna, Austria in 1905. She was the daughter of Bela and Ella (Gabriele) Fränkl. Hermine had four brothers: Leo F. Fränkl, Otto Wilhelm Fränkl, Dr. Friedrich Fraenkl, and Alfred Fraenkl. She married Joseph Floch in 1925. Joseph, a successful artist, was a close family friend and ten years her senior. In 1941 the Floch family immigrated to the United States in order to escape Nazi persecution. The Flochs lived and worked in New York, where Joseph died in 1977 and Hermine died five years later in 1982.

Helen Heller (1919-1974) was born as Helen Olive Ek in Pearl River, NY, the fourth child of Swedish immigrants who came to America in the early 1900s. Heller studied photography, dance, and sculpture, often combining the disciplines in her creative efforts. She studied sculpture in the United States and at the Academy of Applied Arts in Vienna. The subjects of her art works included portrait busts of emigre colleagues and friends, modern dancers, Austrian famers, mothers with their children, and victims of the Vietnam War. Heller exhibited sculpture and dance photography in several shows in New York City and in West Chester, NY. She also published two children's books and taught interpretive dance to poor and underserved children at the Ossining Children’s Center. Her art and life reflected her commitment to multiculturalism, racial equality, acceptance of people with different sexual preferences, early feminism, and anti-war imagery.

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Heller, Helen: Bust of Hermine Floch, Leo Baeck Institute, 2019.27.