For the past 17 years, Vera Yudovina has lived in Solon, Ohio, but she grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her grandfather, a professional artist named Solomon Iudovin, died before she was born, yet through his woodcut works, she got to know about him.
It was through “The Way We Were: Photographs of Shtetl Life,” a 2015 exhibit of Russian images presented by the Jewish Federation’s Cleveland Israel Arts Connection and supported by CAC, that Vera made a connection to another part of Solomon’s life – the years he spent photographing the daily social, educational, and cultural traditions in pre-Revolutionary Russia’s Pale of Settlement. The 100-year-old images were misplaced for decades, and neither Vera nor her family members had ever seen them.
When she read that the photographs were coming to North America for the first time, Vera called the Jewish Federation of Cleveland to tell them she, Solomon’s only granddaughter, was living in Cleveland. She rushed to take her children and grandchildren to see the exhibit.
Growing up in Russia, the arts were always important to Vera’s family, with her parents taking her to visit the fine museums in Leningrad. It is a passion that has passed from her grandfather to Vera, and from Vera to her children and grandchildren. “Art makes your life so much brighter and bigger,” she says. “In the case of my grandfather’s photography, it connects you to your past.”