Rosemarie Inge Koczy, 68, internationally renowned artist of Croton on Hudson, NY, beloved wife to Louis Pelosi, teacher and human rights advocate, Holocaust survivor, succumbed on December 12, 2007 to inflammatory breast cancer. Born March 5, 1939 in Germany, eldest Daughter of Martha (Wustoff) and Karl Koczy, both Jewish. She was deported in 1942 and survived two concentration camps: Dachau and Stuthof. Fifty years after the wars’ end she wrote of that time: “We worked in the fields every day. I saw the killings, the shavings, the bleaching, the torture and hunger, the cold, typhus, tuberculosis. Death was all around!” (In addition to her artwork and voluminous correspondence, Koczy compiled a memoir of over 1100 pages, archived at Yad Vashem that is at once autobiography, meditation and lament.) Remaining at Ottenhausen, then a displaced person’s camp was forbidden.

In 1959 she left Germany for Geneva, Switzerland to prepare to study art. Supporting herself with domestic work, Koczy was accepted into the Ecole des Arts Decorative in 1961 and received her diploma with distinction four years later. Concentrating upon tapestry (she had been schooled as a seamstress in her last orphanage), she soon gained recognition throughout Europe, mounting two successful tapestry museum shows in Geneva (1970 and 1979, the latter dedicated to Mahler’s Third Symphony) and produced over seventy major works in fifteen years. A chance encounter with Peggy Guggenheim in Venice in 1973 led to an abiding friendship and the commissioning of a tapestry for her, and contact with then Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Director Thomas Messer. By the mid-1970’s the unexpressed trauma of her early years forced a change of direction in her work toward a more open acknowledgement of the Holocaust.

By the time Koczy accepted a fellowship to the McDowell colony in 1980 at Messer’s invitation, she had already begun to create the signature pen and ink drawings memorializing the victims of the Shoah revered today throughout the world. In addition to hundreds of paintings, wood sculptures and other works, they numbered more than 12,000 at the time of her death. In her later years, Koczy insisted they only be shown a accompanied by a statement in English, French and German which begins: “The drawings I make everyday are titled ‘I Weave You A Shroud.’ They are burials I offer to those I saw die in the camps.”

A supremely disciplined tireless force of creativity at the service of an absolutely uncompromising spiritual focus and integrity, Koczy created a community art school outside of Geneva in the 1970s and over the past twenty years in Croton she taught hundreds of students privately. Since 1995, at her expense, she instructed elderly and disabled residents of Maple House in Ossining, supplying the best materials, and arranged shows and acquisitions (many by her and her husband). The couple also hosted annual art music gatherings in their home for many years, showcasing the work of other artists and poets and fundraised for the Croton Caring Committee.

Esteemed in both mainstream and outsider art worlds, apart from both in the moral dimension, Koczy’s work was widely sought and resides in many private and public collections, such as the Guggenheim in New York and Venice, and the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Collection De l‘Art Brut in Lausanne (where she inaugurated Jean Dubuffet’s Neuve Invention Annexe in 1985), the museum in Lagerhaus in St. Gallen, Collection Charlotte Zanoer in Bonnigheim (Germany). Musee De La Creation Franche in Beles,France, Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent, Belgium and Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. In 2007, Yad Vashem accepted her largest sculpture, Deportation of the Children, into their permanent collection.

Of the unique urgency of her art, Goya scholar, Fred Licht, has written: “Koczy’s drawings have a moral aspect… One receives the impression that she feels it her duty to execute (them), and duty cannot exist without a sense of moral responsibility. (We must) follow her call to contemplate the darkness which she shares with us and which she, unlike us, neither tries to evade or deny.”

At the same time, in Thomas Messer’s words, “Koczy’s art, in the last analysis, speaks to us through formal authority and through convincing resolution, leaving us there by in a state of catharsis , uplifted and hopeful.” As one vindication among many, she was the first female recipient of the Francis Greenburger award, chosen and presented by Mr. Messer himself at the Guggenheim in 1986.

Rosemarie Koczy’s first marriage (which brought her Swiss citizenship) ended in divorce. She married composer Louis Pelosi in 1984 and became an American citizen in 1989. She is survived by her husband, by a sister Gisela Grob, and by a half-brother Walter Wusthoff, both of Germany. She was buried in a simple ceremony at Beth El Cemetery in Croton on December 14th. Memorial donations may be offered to Amnesty International (of which she was a dedicated member since 1962) or the Croton Caring Committee.

Her gravestone reads: “I weave you a shroud…Of love.”