"Buddy Hollie 'n School" by Ritenour High School student Zach House is one of several photos by Ritenour students that will be on display in the Public Policy Research Center's latest exhibit, "Photography Project: Autobiography of a Teen."

A new University of Missouri–St. Louis exhibit will provide an outlet for the distinctive voices of a group of St. Louis-area teenagers. The teens, all students at Ritenour High School in Breckenridge Hills, Mo., will tell their story through photographs. The exhibit is the latest in the Public Policy Research Center Photography Project series.

Mel Watkin, director of the PPRC Photography Project at UMSL, taught the basics of digital photography to members of the Scribbler’s Art Club. The club was created by Ritenour art teachers in 2008 as a way to bring together students interested in visual art for camaraderie, support and as a means to create special projects in the school and community. After practicing composition and lighting exercises, the students focused on the theme of their exhibition: “Photography Project: Autobiography of a Teen.”

The resulting photos will be on display May 22 through Sept. 16 at the PPRC Photography Project Gallery, south hall of the fourth floor in the Social Sciences & 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. May 22 in the gallery.

A duplicate of the exhibit will be on display May 29 through June 30 at the Rock Road Branch of the St. Louis County Library, 10267 Saint Charles Rock Rd. in St. Ann, Mo. The exhibit can be viewed from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. An opening reception will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. May 29 at the library.

Admission to both exhibits is free.

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.

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Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz

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