The photo "I am Happy!" will be on display in the "PPRC Photography Project: Pais Youth Development Center" at UMSL."

The Academy neighborhood in St. Louis once served as the setting for “Meet Me in St. Louis.” More recently it has fallen on hard times with many homes lying in ruins due, in part, to illegal brick scavenging. The neighborhood, bordered by Dr. Martin Luther Kinger Drive, Delmar Boulevard, North Kingshighway Boulevard and Union Boulevard, also boasts relics of its more elegant past and a nod to the future: well-kept older homes, newly renovated houses, busy shopping centers and active street life.

Academy is the setting for “PPRC Photography Project: Pais Youth Development Center,” the newest exhibition for the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Children from the nonprofit center, which is based in the neighborhood, took to the streets to capture the more vibrant aspects of their surroundings. They photographed deep turquoise steps of the Christ’s Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, a close-up of a glossy yellow fire hydrant cap and a vintage red Cadillac against the backdrop of a red brick house adorned with red ribbons.

The colorful exhibit will be on display Sept. 27 to Jan. 8 at the PPRC Photography Gallery in 427 Social Sciences and Business Building at UMSL, 1 University Blvd. in St. Louis County (63121). Gallery hours are from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. An opening reception will be from noon to 1 p.m. Sept. 27 in the gallery.

A duplicate of the exhibit will be on display Sept. 27 to Jan. 8 in the northwest hallway at the Victor Roberts Building, 1354 N. Kingshighway Blvd. in St. Lous (63113). The exhibit can be viewed from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. An opening reception will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Victor Roberts Building.

The Pais Youth Development Center was established in 1988 to provide counseling services for children and adolescents (ages 3-18) in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Pais is the Greek word for “sent to serve.” The agency’s mission is to provide various supportive services to children with emotional, developmental and behavioral concerns.

The pioneering community photography programs established by artist and teacher Wendy Ewald serve as the model for the PPRC Photography Project. 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 is co-sponsored by the Public Policy Research Center at UMSL, Missouri Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and Regional Arts Commission.

More information:

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.