Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Resilient Souls Photo Exhibit Gives Voice to the Struggles of Young Women

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Resilient Souls Photo Exhibit Gives Voice to the Struggles of Young Women

Article excerpt

By the time they reach their 20s, many American women have already faced a lifetime's worth of pain, says St. Louis photographer Cathy Lander-Goldberg.

"Growing up is difficult, no matter what your cultural or economic background," she explains. "When it is coupled with a challenge such as an eating disorder, abusive relationship, addiction, unplanned pregnancy or physical disability, it can feel overwhelming. And yet many young women courageously work through a difficult part of their lives and are stronger as they enter adulthood."

Lander-Goldberg, who has led workshops in photography and journal writing for young women, helps them voice their struggles in "Resilient Souls: Young Women's Portraits And Words," which opens Sept. 5 at The Center of Contemporary Arts (COCA). The exhibit features Lander-Goldberg's black-and-white portraits of young women, accompanied by their own handwritten or typed stories. Some are pictured here, along with excerpts from their writings. "Each of the participants feels she has dealt successfully with her struggle," says Lander-Goldberg. "For some, participating in this project was a concrete sign that they have come a significant distance. "One of the main goals of this exhibit is for the subjects to share their wisdom with viewers who may be going through similar experiences and to help them feel that they are not alone." The exhibit features approximately 30 character studies of women from St. Louis and across the country. "I had no difficulty finding subjects, unfortunately," says Lander-Goldberg. "Each of these souls is unique, but there are young women like them everywhere. They aren't just at-risk teens or `bad seeds.' They are our daughters, sisters, friends, nieces, students and neighbors." The project was funded in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission and the Writer's Voice of the West County YMCA. On the cover: Mariel was a high school senior when she contracted a virus that damaged her heart. She waited five months for a transplant. "... When you're so close to dying, you come to realize how important everything is to you and how people do care and love you. My top priority was to attend my high school graduation and to be there with my friends again. I was determined and knew I could somehow make it. "I remember the day the doctors told me they found a perfect match for a heart. I don't think I'll ever forget it, because it was the same day my grandmother had passed away. It's unusual when you think about it; it's as if I took her place on Earth when she went to a better-off place. I was mourning the loss of her, but I knew it was for the best. God just works in mysterious ways. "It's hard to believe that there were several times I would ask my mother to remove me from the machine that was keeping me alive. I just wanted everything to end, because at times I thought I would never get a call for a heart. I felt bad for my family to see me in such a bad condition.... "This whole experience has made me more mature about life. When I see others who are in the same position I was in, I tell them to hang in there. ... Another chance to live is the most precious gift God can give to anyone. Your life is the most important, so live it to the fullest. ..." esilient Souls" will run through Oct. 6 at The Center Of Contemporary Arts, 524 Trinity Avenue. The public is invited to attend the opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 5. In conjunction with the show, COCA will offer a six-week fall workshop for young women to express themselves in writing and photography. The workshops will be held on Wednesday evenings, beginning Sept. 25. Lander-Goldberg will lead a workshop at 2 p.m. on Oct. 6. For information about tours or workshops, call COCA at 725-6555. Because of the subject matter, parents may want to preview this exhibit to decide if it is age-appropriate for their teens. Topics include a wide range of social issues -- from anorexia to abortion, depression to date rape. …

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