What is a Greatriarch?
A greatriarch is a member of the community who has helped write the story of the neighborhood. This could be someone who sits on their porch every day and waves to their neighbors, someone who helps to raise the kids of the neighborhood, someone who pastors a church, has lived there for an extended amount of time, etc.
Who are these people and how did we meet them?
Artist in Residence Abi Ogle met Joanna LeNoir, Pearl Carter, Jimmie Lutton, Willie Hawkins, Shirley Webster, Terri Taylor through porching, a Harrison Center initiative. Over the summer Abi, Harrison Center interns and a group from TeenWorks got to know them well and she created individual paintings of each one of them.
“The places that we live are like stories that are written by the lives of those who live there. Whenever we take the time to listen to the stories of others, they can change us. So often it is easy to overlook those around us, like our neighbors. When we spend time with one another, good things happen. Stories are shared, laughs are had, and friends are made. We have the opportunity to be human together, and that is a very good thing. With this in mind, I embarked on this series of Greatriarch portraits, a process that began with a series of scheduled porch parties for several long-term residents in the Monon 16 neighborhood. Each of these "porch parties" were meant to honor and celebrate the neighbor, to hear their stories about the time they had spent in the neighborhood, and to bring other members of the neighborhood together. While at these porch parties, I sketched the greatriarch that we were celebrating, and then after listening to their stories for a few hours, I went back to my studio and painted their portraits. Each one was meant to give honor to the person painted, and to pay homage to a different African American Artist from art history. This was primarily to serve as a reminder that everything that we are a part of has a history, and it is important to acknowledge that history, and listen well to it.“