Selma Waldman painted the blunt-force trauma of rape, degradation and murder. In spite of a growing reputation in Europe and Africa, she was almost unknown in Seattle art circles, even though she lived in the city since the early 1960s. James Harris of Seattle's James Harris Gallery happened to see a small exhibit of hers in a frame shop last year. "I was blown away by the quality of her drawings, the power of her line and her command of such an important subject matter," he said. Her subjects tended to be tough, yet nobody holds such content against Leon Golub, Sue Coe or Michael Spafford. Harris said Golub's work came to mind when looking at Waldman's, but it did not overshadow hers. "Certainly she had her own unique touch," he said. Waldman died of cancer last week. She was 77 but until very recently looked much younger. Politics were as vital to her as art, and she was active all her life in liberation movements around the globe. Her support for the cause of the Palestinian people was unwavering and absolute, a stance that her son, Rainer Waldman Adkins, thinks of as embedded in the Jewish tradition of principled dissent. In Seattle, art dealers, critics and curators tended to avoid her. Fearlessly inventive, she deserved attention and support. Save for a few exceptions (the sculptor Phillip Levine, the painter David Allison), she got neither. Waldman was born Feb. 23, 1931, in Kingsville, Texas, where being part of the only Jewish family in town did not enhance her social life. Her father, Joseph Waldman, was an excellent singer and formidable boxer. He ran a shoe store. Her mother stayed home raising two daughters and being unhappy much of the time. Waldman earned a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Texas. "Austin was the progressive part of Texas, and my mother for the first time discovered a community of like-minded people," said Adkins. One of them she married, an architecture student James Adkins. Their son was born in 1955, and the couple divorced in the mid-1960s. In 1959-60, Waldman took her family to Berlin to study art on a Fulbright Fellowship, where "she was exposed in a visceral, direct way to the Holocaust," said Atkins. The result was the "Falling Man" series of drawings, 25 of which are part of the permanent collection at the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Other drawings on the Holocaust theme are in the Terezin Ghetto Museum in the Czech Republic. Waldman, who worked in a spice shop at Pike Place Market when her son was small, made a modest living teaching drawing privately and in alternative art settings. "She'd come home reeking of orange spice tea," he said. "She fervently believed anybody could learn to draw." She produced eight small books of drawings and writing that document colonial abuse in Kenya and life in South Africa under apartheid. Her latest series, "Naked Aggression," deals with the violence governmental forces inflict upon those they perceive as their enemies, focusing on the U.S. treatment of prisoners in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Waldman is survived by her son, an artist and illustrator who is the Seattle chairman of a Jewish peace group, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom; a daughter-in-law, a grandson, Samuel Adkins; and a sister, Maryon, in Texas.