"PPRC Photography Project: DEAF Inc." at UMSL

“Portrait of Shirley Corbett” by Rhiannon Gurley is one of many photos taken for “PPRC Photography Project: DEAF Inc.,” a new UMSL photography exhibit on display in two locations through April 28.

A multi-generational group of people with ties to the Deaf Empowerment Awareness Foundation are both the subjects and photographers for a new University of Missouri–St. Louis exhibit. Participants included St. Louis-area deaf and hard-of-hearing people, American Sign Language interpreters and teachers who work with deaf students. Their photos result in an exhibit that is the latest in the Public Policy Research Center Photography Project series.

Mel Watkin, director of the PPRC Photography Project at UMSL, spent the last year interacting with deaf members from greater St. Louis.

“This experience has changed my world view,” Watkin said. “It has made me realize that deaf people are not ‘disabled’ so much as they face preventable obstacles in a hearing world.”

Shirley Corbett, community relations director for DEAF Inc., said, “This project helped St. Louis’ deaf community affirm their belief that they can do anything they set their minds to and that they should not allow a lack of communications access to hinder their dreams.”

The exhibit “PPRC Photography Project: DEAF Inc.” is on display through April 28 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.

A duplicate of the exhibit is on display through April 28 at Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream, 8130 Big Bend Blvd. in Webster Groves, Mo. The exhibit can be viewed from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays.

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.

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz