"My Favorites" by an 11-year-old from Lydia's House

The latest installment in the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ ongoing Public Policy Research Center Photography Project features pictures taken by children living at Lydia’s House, which provides transitional housing to survivors of domestic violence. Participants were taught photography through the UMSL project. The children’s photographs make up the exhibit “PPRC Photography Project: Lydia’s House,” which will be on display at two locations.

Chinyere Oteh, a PPRC Photography Project instructor, once volunteered as a college student to help sort clothes and other items at a storage facility used by Lydia’s House. This time, she had the opportunity to work directly with children who benefit from the services provided by the nonprofit organization.

“In order to protect their privacy while still allowing each child to express who they are, we took a creative approach to self-portraiture by photographing their shadows, creating silhouette collages and writing poetry,” Oteh said. “The children photographed items that caught their eye in the meeting areas and rooms at Lydia’s House community center, and together they wrote a story called ‘I am Lydia’s House.'”

“PPRC Photography Project: Lydia’s House” will be on display March 23 through May 16 at the PPRC Photography Project Gallery in 427 Social Sciences and Business Building at UMSL, One University Blvd. in St. Louis County. Gallery hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. An opening reception will be from noon to 1 p.m. March 23 in the gallery.

A duplicate of each PPRC Photography Project exhibit also is displayed in a separate location. In addition to UMSL, “PPRC Photography Project: Lydia’s House” will be on display March 30 through June 27 at Urban Eats Café and the Urban Eats Arts Collective, 3301 Meramec St. in St. Louis. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. An opening reception will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. March 30 at the restaurant.

The PPRC Photography Project was modeled after the pioneering community photography programs established by artist and teacher Wendy Ewald. Several volunteer St. Louis-area community groups participate in the PPRC Photography Project each year. They learn the basics of photography and then are asked to document efforts to improve their neighborhood’s quality of life. The Public Policy Research Center’s goal for the project is twofold: to highlight the undertakings of local organizations working toward the greater good and to inspire people to take a closer look at and get involved with their communities. 

The Photography Project was co-sponsored by the Public Policy Research Center at UMSL, Missouri Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Regional Arts Commission, Advertisers Printing Company, Allied Photocolor and Urban Eats Cafe. Visit http://pprc.umsl.edu or call 314-516-5273 for more information.

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Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz