Selection of Photos

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Photos from my Grandmother's Collection
Photos from my Grandmother's Collection

 In my grandparents’ home in Brooklyn, my mother’s old bedroom has become something akin to an enormous filing cabinet. Each time I visit, I gravitate toward the large wooden armoire, which is filled with old albums, manila folders, and unmarked envelopes, each brimming with photographs from the last sixty years. These photos, particularly those from the 1950-1970 period, were the among the few items my mother’s family was permitted to take out of the Soviet Union when they left Odessa in the late 1970’s. Although the family was incredibly poor, my grandmother’s impeccable aesthetic sensibilities are apparent in every photograph, as she made a concerted effort to cultivate an image of herself, and of her family, that signified departure from her inherited socioeconomic status. I have always found the studio photographs of my grandmother to be particularly captivating, and feel that her unique affinity for both form and function in everything that she does is quite admirable – despite growing up with an abusive alcoholic father, being denied a university education because of her Jewish heritage, and struggling to care for her ever-ailing mother, my grandmother remained the picture of refinement. 

Place(s): Odessa, Brooklyn
Year: 1978

– Arielle Shternfeld

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant