I’ve been going through the archival documents and photos of our family and trying to find out all I can about the Russian origins of my family.
I discovered an envelope of pictures of Russian family members – some of whom survived the pogroms and World War 2 by living out the war years in the Ural Mountains. This is a portrait of my great- great grandmother Rahel Leah Batashoff. She was born in the mid 1800’s and moved to the US with her husband Benjamin and their 5 children (who came at various times). She made wine in Russia, traded and sold it to Russian soldiers, and then made it in New York in the bathtub during Prohibition to trade with Jews for wine for the Sabbath. Her husband was a barber and performed cupping treatments in the old country but was a manual laborer in New York.
The entire project is a work in progress, but I began by making linocuts collage portraits of family members, and Fox scribbled around the people, and both of our lines were used to create collage portraits of my family members. Each portrait also contains photocopies of original family documents. In this portrait, there are copies of some of the Yiddish letters in my family collection, as well as a translation of one of the letters.
The final collection of 8 portraits will be displayed along with actual family archival documents and a written narrative; details to be determined.