20 February 2012

Hyde Park :: faces & places – opening

The Gya Community Arts Gallery is presently exhibiting photography from Hyde Park from the (en)visioning Hyde Park program. The images on display include work by the middle school students involved in the program as well as a photographic presentation by their instructor Andrew Raimist.

Photograph © Aaron Raimist 2012.
The exhibit opening was well attended by the children and their families as well as others in the St. Louis arts community. The joy and pride of the kids was evident, seeing their work displayed in the gallery located at 2700 Locust.

Photograph © Aaron Raimist 2012.
Seeing parents along with their children made the event special. The kids' excitement about the Urban Expressions program, sponsored by Rebuild Foundation, was clear. Younger brothers and sisters were asking if they might be able to participate this program next summer.

Photograph © Aaron Raimist 2012.

Many of the kids posed alongside their work or next to their portraits. A series of enlarged portraits are hanging in the storefront windows of Gya's gallery facing north onto Locust and east onto North Beaumont. These portraits were taken by photography instructor Andrew Raimist and enlarged as part of the global arts initiative InsideOutProject funded through a TED grant to the French artist JR. The project solicited portraits from communities the world over and printed them at 48" high x 36" wide to be displayed publicly as street art.

Photograph © Aaron Raimist 2012.

Their pride in seeing their faces enlarged and displayed in Gya's gallery in downtown St. Louis was heartwarming. This public display seemed to help validate their worth as artists with a voice and an opinion about the future of our city.

Photograph © Aaron Raimist 2012.

The program was sponsored directly by Rebuild Foundation through their Urban Expressions effort and by Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, a critical visual and spiritual anchor of the Hyde Park neighborhood for generations.

Photograph © Aaron Raimist 2012.
One of the catalysts for the program's success has been the Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute developed by the Regional Arts Commission. Andrew Raimist and Gina Martinez were two artists working with Rebuild who were CAT graduates from 2011. Dayna Kriz (Rebuild's Director) and Mallory Nezam are present members of the Institute.

Photograph © Aaron Raimist 2012.

The program was also supported by members of Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice who published some of the children's photographs in a special section of their website entitled North of Delmar, helping to raise awareness of the physical and social conditions existing today in Hyde Park.

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