Sophia M. Libman, 83, Carroll County artist

March 11, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Sophia M. Libman, a Carroll County artist whose struggle with failing eyesight caused by macular degeneration did not diminish her enthusiasm for painting, died March 4 of lung cancer at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore. She was 83.

A resident of Westminster since 1920, Mrs. Libman worked in oils, acrylics, and pen and ink. She also created collages.

Last November, 43 pieces of her artwork were displayed at the Health Science and Human Services Library at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in an exhibition sponsored by the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and titled "Beyond Vision."

The show was noted for visually recording the transformation of Mrs. Libman's style as she moved from being a fully sighted artist to one who was nearly blind. Able to perceive large shapes, she could also recognize some color and contrasts between light and darkness.

"Before when I drew, I was very careful to draw each feature separately and try to make it realistic. Now I draw practically without lifting my pen from the paper," she told The Sun in an interview in November. "When I paint, it is purely a movement, not a thought -- it's almost a reflex action. My hand does most of it."

"Libman's recent paintings are pared down, as though the loss of sight has focused her attention," The Sun article said. "Details have vanished. Her palette, which often featured bright hues such as fuchsia, red and royal blue, has become less vivid, but not less varied.

"There is a haunting quality to her recent works. In earlier paintings, her subjects are often smiling. They are eating, drinking, wearing bright colors. Now, backgrounds fade away. The subjects seem to stand alone," the article said.

The former Sophia Meredith was born in Pulaski County, Va. After she moved to Westminster, she graduated from Westminster High School. She earned a bachelor's degree from Hood College in 1937 and a master's degree in English literature from Yale University.

She was a member of Carroll County Arts Council, the American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters.

She was also a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and the Sisterhood.

An avid bridge player, she was a member of Westminster Duplicate Bridge Club and the Third Wednesday Invitational Game Bridge Club. She also enjoyed reading and travel.

Services were held Wednesday at Fletcher Funeral Home in Westminster.

Mrs. Libman is survived by her husband of 55 years, Frank H. Libman; three sons, David F. Libman of Moorpark, Calif., William C. Libman of Westminster and Frank M. Libman of Minneapolis; a sister, Byrd Roadcap of Naples, Fla.; and two grandchildren.

Sun staff writer Holly Selby contributed to this article.

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