Polly smokes illicitly in her bathroom. Residents at the Renfrew Center for eating disorders are only permitted to smoke during designated breaks on the smoke porch.

Polly smokes illicitly in her bathroom. Residents at the Renfrew Center for eating disorders are only permitted to smoke during designated breaks on the smoke porch.

“THIN,” a multimedia photography-based exhibition about eating disorders by photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield, will open Jan. 21 in Gallery 210 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. A public reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 28 in the gallery. The exhibit will run through March 20.

Greenfield’s exhibit weaves together large-scale portraits and documentary photographs; recorded voices, videos and narrative texts; and educational facts and resources in an effort to bring viewers a multimedia experience of a pervasive cultural problem. “THIN” features 53 photographs, video, personal journals and candid interviews with women who suffer from eating disorders. One in seven young American women is affected by eating disorders, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

“I began ‘THIN’ with an interest in the most pathological and exaggerated manifestation of the ‘body project’ that engages most of us to some lesser degree,” Greenfield said of the exhibit. “Eating disorders seemed a cautionary tale about society’s unhealthy emphasis on our physiques and the implied relationships between our inner and outer attributes.”

The exhibit, like Greenfield’s award-winning HBO documentary of the same name, profiles four patients at the Renfrew Center in Coconut Creek, Fla., a residential facility dedicated to the treatment of individuals with eating disorders.

Subjects include Brittany, a 15-year-old who is convinced that being thin is the only way to gain acceptance among her peers; Shelly, 25, who has been battling anorexia for years and has had a feeding tube surgically implanted in her stomach; Alisa, 30, a divorced mother of two whose hatred of her body is manifested in her relentless compulsion to purge; and Polly, 29, who has spent years in and out of treatment and continues to buck the center’s rules.

The exhibit includes a 14-minute selection of scenes from the documentary “THIN” and photos conveying life at Renfrew, which features portraits of the four women and 15 other residents with diverse ages and backgrounds.

Greenfield is considered an acclaimed photographer and a preeminent chronicler of youth culture as a result of her groundbreaking projects “Girl Culture” and “Fast Forward.” Her photographs have been widely exhibited and are in many museum collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the International Center of Photography in New York. She is one of the 25 most influential photographers working today, according to American Photo.

Greenfield curated “THIN” with Trudy Wilner Stack. The traveling exhibit was organized by Greenfield/Evers LLC and the Dallas-based Women’s Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate and the nation’s only comprehensive women’s history museum that chronicles the lives of American women through interactive exhibits. Stack will give a lecture on the exhibit at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Gallery 210 auditorium. The gallery is in the Telecommunity Center at UMSL, One University Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63121. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

“THIN” is sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History at UMSL, the Center for Humanities at UMSL, Cannon USA, the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council. Call 314-516-5976 or visit http://gallery210.umsl.edu for more information.

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz

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