At Gut Check, we firmly believe that food is art. The Public Policy Research Center at UMSL seems to agree.
PPRC uses photography to help citizens understand public policy, and since 1978 they've been curating photography exhibits that display the center's efforts in urban St. Louis. The most recent exhibit showcases the work of Angel Baked Cookies, a program of North Grand Neighborhood Services.
"We do a lot of research in the community and find people and train them to photograph what they're doing to make St. Louis a better place," says PPRC Photography Project director Mel Watkin. "Our goal is to show these groups that are not very well known but are still doing work to improve the community in their own way."
Angel Baked Cookies was established in 2007 to employ teenagers with few other options and provide them with on-the-job training in small-business management.
Oh, and they also bake cookies, which are sold in local businesses. The cookies, called Halos, come in three varieties: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and sugar.
But back to the art exhibit!
The teens were given a dozen weekly digital photography lessons by Lyndsey Scott, instructor for the PPRC Photography Project, who then set the "Angels" loose with cameras to photograph themselves, their cookies and Saints Teresa & Bridget Church, which serves as their bakery.
"We have all the equipment to both do the training and do the exhibition," says Watkins. "We also make a brochure and an invitation that Angel Baked Cookies and other groups can pass out to everyone to raise their visibility in the community."
The photos in the exhibit depict everything from flour fights in front of the church to farm visits to digital collages featuring the special cookies. And, of course, baking.
Photos taken by the Angel Baked Cookies kiddos of the process are on display at the PPRC Photography Project Gallery, in the Sciences & Business Building at UMSL through March 3. Prints of the same photos are on display at Chronicle Coffee through March 3 as well. Admission to both exhibits is free.
If it's cookies you're after, the confections are available at businesses throughout the city, including several farmers' markets and university dining halls. Check the Angel Baked website for the full list.