The Horio: Greek Life in Tarpon Springs
Online Exhibition and Artist Statement
by Eleni Christopoulos-Lekkas
I grew up in this little old town of Tarpon Springs, a place where being Greek was the center of everything. My mother made sure of it, and so did all the mothers. So much so, that after I went to college, I took the next logical step (in my mind) and moved to Greece. The seed that had been planted in me and grew in Tarpon Springs blossomed. It felt like home. Ten years later I came back, as we all do, to the horio (village), right here in the USA.
It wasn't until I returned that I saw it all, smelled it all, listened to it all...realized it all. The majesty of our liturgical life, the intricacy of our costume, the textures, the colors. The sounds our music, our song, our language. The characteristics of our people's faces—it is all beautiful to me. The smell of incense burning, koulourakia baking….even the smell of a warehouse full of sponge. Most people might want to hold their nose at that one, but to me that smells like home; to me, that smell brings tears to my eyes.
When I watch our children dancing together, singing together, learning together, I see them bonding as we did as children. That's when I know that we have to preserve this. Generations are passing, fewer and fewer seeds are being planted and fed with enough soil to keep them alive. Our sponge industry, which brought us here in the first place, is dying. Our businesses are struggling.
These photographs are as much about capturing what is left of what we had, as they are a call to stop and look at what we have. Especially in a time when our Motherland is holding on by a thread, we have to stay alive so that she can stay alive. We need to plant more seeds so that we can always say there's no place like Tarpon Springs, there's no place like our horio, there's no place like home!