Free Inquiry
Appeared in Secular Humanist Bulletin, vol 25 issue 1

Vita ex Natura
(From Nature, Life)

Sherry Rook

The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 25, Number 1 (Spring 2009).

Vita ex Natura sculpture, by Lillian Brem

Lillian Brem, an artist and a longtime friend and supporter of the Center for Inquiry, has given us a very wonderful, unique gift. Brem’s sculpture, which she named Vita ex Natura, has joined the permanent art collection of the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York. The piece reflects the belief that life is created from nature and is not the work of a deity.

Brem, like all the CFI supporters whom I have met, is an exceptional person. She was a lifelong resident of the Los Angeles area until a few months ago, when she moved to Chicago. Her career was in the fashion world, where she worked as a clothes designer and manufacturer. She held executive positions and developed complete lines for several international firms. She also had a studio in Los Angeles and designed the staff uniforms that were worn for the openings of Caesar’s Palace and Circus Circus in Las Vegas.

Brem is also a painter and a sculptor. She studied sculpting in Los Angeles and Pietra Santa, Italy, where she learned the Italian method of working with a compressor to carve marble. She told me, “The saying is that marble is softer when you are in Italy, but don’t you believe it.”

Her work is displayed in the homes of several prominent people in Los Angeles. Since 1990, Brem has been making the “Spirit of Hope” award given to the honoree at the annual gala of the Associates for Breast Cancer, part of the John Wayne Institute at St. John’s Hospital. A copy of the award is incorporated into the donors’ wall at St. John’s Hospital. She also created the award given by the Hollywood Film Festival. Kirk Douglas was the first recipient. Graham Nash received the honor the second year.

Brem has traveled to many parts of the world for business and pleasure, making trips in the last few years to Russia, Paris, and Egypt, where she rode a camel in the desert.

Recently, Brem completed a book that she wrote and illustrated. Brem wanted her grandchildren to realize just how far the family has come in one hundred years. The book shares stories of her mother’s formative years in Russia before she left at 
age ten to travel to the United States by steerage class. Getting to know her on a personal level has been more than a treat for me. We spent a couple of hours together one day poring over the book while she explained the stories, pictures, and the process of putting it all together. This book will be cherished by her family.

We cannot thank Brem enough for everything that she has done for and continues to do for the Center for Inquiry and secular humanism. We are honored to have a piece of her artwork here at the Center for Inquiry.

If you would like to discuss making a special gift to the Center for Inquiry or the Council for Secular Humanism, please feel free to contact Sherry Rook, vice president of development, by phone at 1-800-818-7071 or by e-mail: srook [at] centerfor .

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