projectsJarod Hamm

Senior Spotlight

projectsJarod Hamm
Senior Spotlight

March 2018

Jamie Horter

Jamie Horter is a rural advocate, community artist, and community coach based in Lyons, NE (pop. 851). She created her first public work when she was commissioned at the age of 10 to paint a mural in the elementary hallway of her hometown school. Then and now, her works are inclusive and community centered, often placing rural citizens in the design process as co-creators. Jamie’s work is multidisciplinary in scope and her work is informed by a personal history of eclectic explorations. She has degrees in art and chemistry and experience in working on Capitol Hill, within grassroots advocacy and non-profit organizations, and serving as editor of a small town newspaper. She now works in rural communities in South Dakota and Nebraska, using art to engage citizens in building the future they wish to see.


 
 At Green River Coffee Company, Lindsey McFarlane shares stories about the senior she interviewed, Gladys May (right) during the Senior Spotlight public reception.  

At Green River Coffee Company, Lindsey McFarlane shares stories about the senior she interviewed, Gladys May (right) during the Senior Spotlight public reception.
 

 

The culture of any place is a dynamic, collective reflection of the individuals living there. If you were to take a snapshot look into the people of Green River, what would it look like? What stories would residents uphold as the ones important to tell? My time as a Frontier Fellow was spent engaging youth in an artistic act to discover some of those stories and preserve a moment in time from the senior citizens who call Green River their home.

Teacher Craig Gowans invited me into his classroom to work with his senior creative writing students. With his class of six, we produced a project called Senior Spotlight. Through this project, two generations of citizens, senior students and senior citizens, share an interaction together. Each student spends time with one senior citizen in the community, connecting and interviewing them about their life. The senior citizen they choose is someone who they were not related to, and someone currently living in Green River.

 
  Freddy Escalante and the senior he interviewed, Coombs Hall, share a conversation with the public at Chow Hound during a reception for Senior Spotlight.

Freddy Escalante and the senior he interviewed, Coombs Hall, share a conversation with the public at Chow Hound during a reception for Senior Spotlight.

 

Students captured and edited portraits of each senior citizen. They also wrote a narrative about that person’s life. Each student created one narrative in English and one in Spanish to better serve Green River's bilingual community. 

Students raised money to pay for professional quality prints to be made of their portraits and written works. Thanks to the support of two Green River businesses, Chow Hound and Green River Coffee Company, the works were able to be displayed in their windows. 

 
 Senior Spotlight portraits and narratives on display at Chow Hound  

Senior Spotlight portraits and narratives on display at Chow Hound
 

 

Community members and participating senior citizens joined students for an evening public reception held at Chow Hound and Green River Coffee Company. Students talked about their interactions with the senior citizen they spoke with and gave anecdotes about the things that stuck with them in their conversations. Some of the senior citizens were able to participate in the evening’s events and share a few of their own life stories with the public.

While the exhibit was temporary, work is being done to preserve these portraits and narratives for the people of Green River. The works students created will be archived for the public and made accessible through Epicenter. A book of their work will be published.

 
  Senior student Maribel Escalante gives a public presentation about her interview of Green River resident Catherine Kane.

Senior student Maribel Escalante gives a public presentation about her interview of Green River resident Catherine Kane.

 

Should members of the community decide to do so, this project could continue. Each year could be a new opportunity for youth and senior citizens to connect. Over time, the stories and images collected could continue to grow as a dynamic archive about the individuals and collective culture that make Green River what it is.

 Some of the participants in Senior Spotlight, back row, from left: Coombs Hall, Lindsey McFarlane, Gladys May, Daniela Mendez, Roman Medina, Maribel Escalante, Freddy Escalante, and teacher Craig Gowans. Front: Maria Sykes (Epicenter Director) and Jamie Horter (Frontier Fellow). Not pictured: student Marcela Soto and interviewed seniors Dean and Hilda King, Ardon and Carolyn Sherril, and Catherine Kane.  

Some of the participants in Senior Spotlight, back row, from left: Coombs Hall, Lindsey McFarlane, Gladys May, Daniela Mendez, Roman Medina, Maribel Escalante, Freddy Escalante, and teacher Craig Gowans. Front: Maria Sykes (Epicenter Director) and Jamie Horter (Frontier Fellow). Not pictured: student Marcela Soto and interviewed seniors Dean and Hilda King, Ardon and Carolyn Sherril, and Catherine Kane.
 

 Green River locals stop to read stories about the senior citizens in their community.  

Green River locals stop to read stories about the senior citizens in their community.
 

 

 

Thank You

Special thanks to Epicenter's Maria Sykes and Jarod Hamm for hosting me and to Craig Gowans for inviting me into his classroom. During my time in Green River, so many of the residents and local business owners extended warm welcomes and hospitality. Thanks to all who supported Senior Spotlight, stopped to have a conversation, welcomed me into their home, or invited me to go on a hike and explore the beautiful desert landscape.