SPARC Interviews Noni Olabisi, Artist of “To Protect and Serve

Noni Olabisi stands in front of the conservation of "To Protect and Serve". Conservation sponsored by SPARC's CityWide Mural Program and the DCA.
Noni Olabisi stands in front of the conservation of “To Protect and Serve”. Conservation sponsored by SPARC’s CityWide Mural Program and the DCA.

SPARC is proud to be sponsoring the conservation of “To Protect and Serve” by Noni Olabisi, located at the corner of Jefferson Blvd and 11th Ave. Noni has been working with the CityWide Team since early December to repair 23 years of sun damage. During her conservation work, Noni took some time to answer some of our questions. “To Protect and Serve” was sponsored in 1992 by the SPARC Neighborhood Pride Program, as part of a collection of 105 murals for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). SPARC’s CityWide Mural Program is a pilot project by the DCA that will restore a total of 9 historically significant murals across Los Angeles.  

SPARC: Noni, thank you for taking time from your busy painting schedule to answer a few of our questions. Your mural, “To Protect and Serve” is known as one of the most powerful artworks of the Neighborhood Pride Collection. Since your arrival at the mural, we all have gotten to know on a daily basis how beloved the work is by the local community. We were interesting in knowing what were your most memorable moments while working on the mural back in 1992?

Noni Olabisi: The most significant moments that influenced me were the many shared stories from the community, of what this mural means to them. Now that I am working on the wall, I have received so many hugs welcoming me back!

SPARC: What are you looking forward to most during the conservation?

Noni Olabisi: I hope to have enough time to complete the conservation of the mural to the best, the VERY BEST of my ability now that I have this great opportunity to work on it. I look forward to giving it my ALL!

SPARC: What were your thoughts when you first heard that your mural had been selected for conservation by the SPARC CityWide Mural Program?

Noni Olabisi: Excited, VERY EXCITED!

SPARC: What do you believe is the significance of this mural to the local community? 

Noni Olabisi: The significance of the mural lies in the significance of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. More importantly, it is History to never be forgotten. 

SPARC: What is the significance of the mural to you?

Noni Olabisi: The mural represents so many brave young people standing up to injustice. To me, it is Courage in the face of injustice.

SPARC: What are your hopes for the conservation of the mural? What influence do you believe the conserved mural will  bring to the community?

Noni Olabisi: My hope is that it will last another 20 years or more and that the community continues to protect it. 

For more information on the history of  “To Protect and Serve”, click here.