Bubu's Journey: A Family Trip Becomes a Survival Story

Exhibition Dates: November 5th - January 31st, 2022 in Flower City Arts Center, 713 Monroe Ave, Rochester, NY 14607

Reception: - in None

An immigration story of photographs by Arnold & Laura Chekow
IN-PERSON November 5-December 18, 2021
ONLINE VIEWING through January 31, 2021
Gallery Hours Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM, Saturday 12-5PM
FREE and open to the public

What’s this “Bubu’s Journey” exhibit all about?

This is a different kind of exhibit. It is not meant to extol the prowess of any specific photographer. Its purpose is to illustrate a story using the unique power of photography. For that it includes several photographs taken by professional photographers in Europe about a hundred years ago. The pictures and the story all involve my Grandmother, Bertha (“Bubu”) Grossman, who had an immigrant story to tell. A story about survival.

The fact that this story exists to be shared is a tribute to the extraordinary value of photography. It is both an art form, and one that can depict truth and circumstances as nothing else can. It documents events so that they remain rooted as irrefutable evidence of their occurrence for future generations.

"Bubu" had emigrated to the United States years before from Eastern Europe. She had been living in The Bronx in New York City. Then, she decided to return to Europe in 1912 with her four children while pregnant with a fifth, with the purpose of introducing her family to her parents in Europe. Leaving her husband, Israel Grossman, behind on the lower East Side.

Many people had emigrated from Eastern Europe to the United States. Very few returned to visit. What Bubu didn't know was that she'd encounter World War I and not be able to return for several more years.

Bubu’s story is, at its core, the story of an indomitable spirit. She overcame unimaginable hazards, discomforts, and challenges to find food and shelter for herself and her family. The overwhelming circumstances she faced could understandably have caused an ordinary person to give up. And, yet she managed to return to the United States with her five children substantially intact.

Telling "Bubu's Journey" memorializes her life. Her story is an inspiration - and also perhaps serves to encourage us all to consider the often unknown reality of any immigrant’s journey. Lastly, this exhibit serves as an example of the treasure that is visual storytelling.

My departed wife Natalie and daughter Laura and I have worked together on variations of this project since 2010. Thank you for engaging with our family history.

Arnold Chekow