Work of Annie Greene honored as part of 400 Year Journey

Published 6:59 pm Monday, October 21, 2019

On Friday night, the work of acclaimed yarn artist Annie Greene was honored as the kickoff event for the 400 Year Journey. 

The 400 Year Jorney was a commemorative celebration of the accomplishments of African Americans in the 400 years since the first slaves were brought to America.

Greene taught in Troup County for 35 years, before retiring to focus on her art. She remains an advocate of art education, and her exhibit and book titled “What Color Is Water?” share her experiences growing up in the segregated south.

“I’m just so pleased that we had such a good crowd,” Greene said. “After the 400 [Year Journey] committee, asked me to exhibit I was grateful for that. They said it tied in the subject.”

Several attendees at the event said that Greene’s art pulled people together and encouraged conversation.

“I really like the way that she has presented her art,” said Wanda Walker, organizer for LaGrange’s 400 Year Journey. “I think people who lived in that time look at her art, and they see and are reminded of the things that happened or the way it was. … She presents things in such a way that it brings people together to not only enjoy her art but to take a view of what her life was like.”

Greene also signed her book at the event on Friday. 

“I love that she shared her stories,” said Chalteon Askew, a committee member for the 400 Year Journey. “I hate some of the experiences, but seeing the poise and the calm, seeing that she was able to break free from those experiences has another depth of inspiration. So, I love that she wrote the book ‘What Color is Water?’”

Greene was Askew’s junior high art teacher, and he said that Greene is an inspiration to him. Other attendees of the event said that Greene’s work allowed them to process the events of their own lives.

“For me, when I looked at a lot of her paintings, I could really reflect back on situations in my own life and didn’t even know that the tension was there,” said Yvonne Lopez, event coordinator. “It was there all the time, but when you are black in America, you’re brought up in such a way that you’re on guard with your behavior, and you don’t even know why. You just think it is the way you are supposed to respond.”

Lopez said that Greene’s work allowed to understand the things she felt to be true at a young age.

“Being who I am and seeing the inequality, and actually looking at some of her work, it made me reflect back on stuff I didn’t even realize at that time what racial tension there was in the air,” Lopez said. “I really thank God that I didn’t because being a child, it would have been really tragic and traumatic, but I thank God that we have these great people like Mrs. Annie Greene to be able to educate our children and our grandchildren to our history — the American history, which is an awesome story.”

The event around Greene’s exhibit was one of several educational components to LaGrange’s 400 Year Journey, and it gave organizers an opportunity to honor someone who has succeeded in their field and had a positive impact on the community. 

“There are educational components [to the 400 Year Journey], and we also wanted to highlight the accomplishments of African Americans over the 400 years,” Walker said. “This is one of our local people who has truly risen, and this is amazing for us to honor her and to make it a part of the event.”

There are plans to show Greene’s “What Color Is Water?” collection in Darien, Georgia, in February. Arrangements for the show to be exhibited at other locations are being made thorough Artisans on the Square in Greenville.