Interview with Christine Moore-Bonbright

Interview with Christine Moore-Bonbright

In a conversation with GCCA’s Gallery Director,  Christine Moore-Bonbright provides insight into her experience in the Brandon Fellowship at GCCA, the evolution of her art practice, and the impact of strong community support on her art career. As she continues to navigate her Fellowship experience through August, Christine’s stories will help other navigate life’s experiences through her digital illustrations.


Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: Christine, I have had the pleasure of getting to know you as an artist over the past year, and you first came to the program as a traditional pen & ink / charcoal drawing artist. It now seems, roughly ¾ into the Fellowship, that you have changed course a bit. Has the Brandon Fellowship program given you the opportunity to adjust the trajectory of your art career? And how are you making art differently than when you entered?

Christine Moore-Bonbright, Brandon Fellow: So when I first entered the Fellowship, I had thought that I needed to continue creating the traditional drawing & painting works that I made in college. Those works I made in college were deeply personal to me and they touched on things like family, culture, and identity struggles. I think at first I felt a pressure from within and also an external pressure from my cultural community that I should or I have to continue making those works because I need to represent the communities that I belong to. I felt that pressure a lot and in the early months of the Fellowship, that led to some artistic stagnation and indecision. But as I came to be surrounded by the artists at GCCA, meeting with you and Brandon Fellow alumni, and participating in mentor critique meetings, it made me realize that I really should just create the art that I want. So I asked myself, what does my artistic trajectory actually look like?

While I still love traditional art like drawing with charcoal and it’s fantastic to have those technical skills from that medium, I found it isn’t the medium that will take me to where I want to go. Digital art really is the medium that I am most comfortable with, and I feel like where I create the best art that represents me and my experiences. I think I definitely see myself now, especially as sort of a representative of the digital art community here in Greenville.

A turning point of me wanting to move more into digital painting, character design, and comic work was when I was introduced to my mentor, Honie Beam. After working with her, honing in on what it is I want to accomplish, and getting endlessly fruitful feedback about my process, I felt comfortable doubling down on my new path. And I definitely think that my trajectory and the fellowship would have been different if stuck to my original plan in my traditional mediums, as I probably would have taken the time allotted to me through the Fellowship to explore another facet of my art identity.

Character reference sheet from Christine’s Black Sheep graphic novel

Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: Let’s talk a bit more about the mentors and community you get to work with. Each Fellow gains access to critical, professional advice and networking opportunities from a mentor group of professional artists that are hand-picked each year to specifically meet the needs of that year’s Fellowship class. How important is having a community of support as you explore the themes and mediums you want?

Christine Moore-Bonbright, Brandon Fellow: After I moved to Greenville back in 2022, I very much felt isolated as an artist. I actually came to the 2022 Annual Showcase on a whim and was pleasantly surprised that a program like the Brandon Fellowship was being offered so I decided to apply the following year. The power of finding my community can not be understated. Not only having the professional support through connections I have made but more important are the friends that I have made through this process. Connecting with Brandon Fellow alumni and the GCCA community has created an atmosphere of belonging for me which has only emboldened my purpose as an emerging artist.

It was also a fun process to work with you to hand pick the mentors we wanted for our Fellowship year. Honie seemed like the ideal mentor for me as she has experience with art & literary agencies, and obviously creating amazing works of art of her own. I told myself that I have this opportunity right here to have a mentor that is literally doing what I want to do in the future, creating illustrative, agency work, and graphic novels. I did not want to waste any time and I made sure I would soak up as much information as possible. We do get to meet during our critiques sessions that we have quarterly with the other Fellows and mentors, but I make an effort to meet and talk with Honie as often as I can. For instance, we met for coffee some months back and she basically sat down with a huge binder of her entire catalog of comic work and files and was like, “So, here’s how I got my agent. Here’s the difference between an art agent and a literary agent. You know, here’s the contracts and how they work, etc”. It was eye opening to have the opportunity to see what it was like to be a contracted, professional illustrator, and what that path may look like for me. It was really important to me to gain those insights so that I can set realistic expectations for myself and hopefully get my foot in the door after the Fellowship.

Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: Can you give me some insight into your digital and illustrative artwork that you are creating throughout the Fellowship? What are some of your inspirations and prominent themes now seen in your work?

Christine Moore-Bonbright, Brandon Fellow: Right now, I am in the throes of working on my first graphic novel, “Black Sheep”. This is the project I have been working on for some time now but chose this story for my fellowship work because it is heavily character focused and I have always been drawn to character design. I wanted to see my experience represented in the digital and printed mediums. Each of the characters in this story have bits of myself expressed in their design and personality. “Black Sheep” is really a coming of age story. It explores how, in those early stages of our lives, we often attempt to escape from difficult situations. It is scary to confront difficult issues at any age but especially so in those formative years of our lives. Maybe it’s unrequited love that isn’t fulfilled and accepting that you need to let go. Maybe it’s feeling the stress of not having solid career plans after school. It also delves into parental figures impacting how you see yourself and how you subsequently navigate the world.

The first of my inspirations obviously came from the internet. The main inspiration for my work comes from a comic series called “Backlash” by Amber Houston. I have been following it since it began back in 2014 and I was intrigued by the female characters not fitting into traditional female archetypes. Their identity was not centered on traditional roles females occupy in adventure stories and that really resonated with me and where my stories and artwork could go. Other than Amber Houston, I would say my digital painting style has been influenced by Sui Ishidia and the “Toyko Ghoul” series and the character designs of Tas Mukanik.

BACKLASH by Amber Houston

Toyko Ghoul manga cover art by Sui Ishida

Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: The Brandon Fellowship exhibition at GCCA is quickly approaching. You and the other Fellows will be installing your own exhibition displays that will be on view from August 2nd – September 25, 2024. What can visitors expect from your exhibition?

Christine Moore-Bonbright, Brandon Fellow: My exhibition will be a fully finished display of my pilot chapter of my “Black Sheep” graphic novel in various forms. In a 20-25 page pilot, visitors can read part of the graphic novel somewhere beginning in the middle of the story. To give additional context, I will be printing character reference sheets, digital illustration, concept art, and the cover of the comic as large format fine art prints. I will also be displaying a spread of sketches, scripts, and thumbnails that show the editorial process with my mentor, Honie Beam.

Comic spreads from Christine’s Black Sheep graphic novel

Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: Finally, what comes next for you after the Fellowship is over?

Christine Moore-Bonbright, Brandon Fellow: Well, the whole process of writing, editing, and illustrating my graphic novel has definitely given me some perspective on how much work goes into publishing graphic novels. While I was writing the whole plot out, I was like, oh, my gosh, this is a much more complicated story than when I started. So I think moving forward, I definitely want to experiment with maybe shorter stories or maybe an adaptation of something that already exists to experiment with graphic novel work. I’ve also been considering getting into agency work, but I might start off with freelance opportunities in illustration, character design.

I also think it would be amazing to begin a digital artist collective in the Greenville area so that digital artists can foster a community in the Upstate where we can meet up, critique each other’s work, and explore new ideas together. 

Be sure to visit Christine in her studio at GCCA and follow her on social media to tag along in her journey through the Brandon Fellowship this year:
Instagram: CLICK HERE

Anyone interested in applying for the Brandon Fellowship, please make sure to subscribe to GCCA’s emails or visit to learn more! Any questions can be directed to Gallery Director, Ben Tarcson at

Interview with Kephira Davis

Interview with Kephira Davis

In an illuminating conversation with GCCA’s Gallery Director, 2024 Brandon Fellow Kephira Davis provides insight into the Brandon Fellowship at GCCA, the evolution of her art practice, and the profound influence of family on her artwork. As she continues to navigate her Fellowship experience until August, her dedication to authenticity and meaningful storytelling shines through, promising a future in the world of contemporary art.

Kephira in studio. Photo credit: Gwinn Davis. 


Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: Kephira, could you provide a snapshot of where you are in regards to your journey within the Brandon Fellowship?

Kephira Davis: Throughout all the experiences I have been exposed to, between jumping into teaching for the first time, creating designs for murals, or getting into my first solo exhibition, I have found that my main interest lies in the dynamic between being a full-time artist and gallery work. Half way through my Fellowship, I have my first solo exhibition at the Warehouse Theatre opening on April 4th, which I am very excited for! I also had the opportunity to join this year’s community gallery review committee at GCCA where I served as a panelist choosing the upcoming exhibition schedule through August 2025. Another new opportunity arose where the other Fellows and I have been given the opportunity to curate an online exhibition through GCCA that will open in July. 


Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: Have there been any moments or experiences during your Fellowship that may have opened new doorways for you career-wise? 

Kephira Davis: I did not expect to like teaching children. The Brandon Fellowship has given me the opportunity to teach after-school workshops through GCCA’s Aspiring Artist program at two of our local community centers.  Initially, the idea of teaching was daunting and scary. I didn’t want to mess up but I quickly learned how impactful my artistic knowledge was on shifting the children’s perspective on how they can creatively problem solve and make art. From these workshops, I have actually started teaching workshops at Wine and Paint establishments now too. On a separate note, it has been very odd that I am getting recognized as both a Brandon Fellow and visual artist around Greenville. Not that getting recognized is a bad thing but it was shocking at first. I have better adjusted to that now and I am excited for all the new opportunities for collaborations, commissions, and future exhibitions that are ahead of me. 


Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: Your artwork often explores themes of family and the Black female experience. What inspires these themes, and how do they manifest in your work?

Kephira Davis: I have many inspirations that inform my work but to give you one, I pull a lot of inspiration from photographer, Rashad Taylor. He documents his son with his camera and he examines themes of race, culture, family, and legacy and his images are a kind of family album. His images tell more than a family story; they’re a window into the Black American experience. These are themes that I talk about in my work, but with more emphasis on the experience of Black women in America and even more specifically Black female gaze. In my case, I explore the dynamics of familial experiences and the idea of growing up, maturing, and feeling the slow, bittersweet “slipping away” from family as we get older. As I have gotten older I feel it is easier and quicker to get frustrated with family than it is to be real, open and truthful with them. In my newer works, I paint my family members pulling on references from family albums photographs. The way the female figures gaze into the camera is critical for me. I find moments of complexity in their emotions and their expression often can be very relatable or taken vastly out of context. It is important that feelings of joy, anger, or frustration are blurred just as memories of the stories told about these moments may be obscured.  It is not my intention to make political statements with these works but I recognize that those politics exist and can be drawn upon. 


Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: Have you noticed any shifts in your approach to art since joining the Fellowship program? 

Kephira Davis: When I first came into the Fellowship, I felt like I was making safe artwork. Meaning that the artwork looked technically sound and pleasing to the eye but the concepts were vague enough that I could get away with avoiding true criticism. In my research about my family since getting my studio, I came to the realization that I have a responsibility to represent my community and uplift future generations. I don’t want to hold back now with regards to how the work is received, rather I want to make art that thoughtfully and directly represents my family and community with purpose.   


Ben Tarcson, Gallery Director: Each year, the Brandon Fellows participate in a Main Gallery exhibition in August & September. Notably, each Fellow has worked tirelessly to prepare for what they will have on display. Looking ahead to your Brandon Fellowship exhibition at GCCA in August, what can visitors anticipate?

Kephira Davis: I plan to paint 5 or more portraits of varying scale that show the relationship between two or more family figures. These paintings specifically will reference family photos where the figures are neither smiling or frowning. Their gaze has an expressed ambiguity to suggest emotions and memories of these moments are more complex than what they appear. I will be pulling from family photo albums on both my mom and dad’s side of the family. 


Be sure to visit Kephira in her studio at GCCA and follow her on social media to tag along in her journey through the Brandon Fellowship this year:
Instagram: CLICK HERE
Facebook: CLICK HERE


Anyone interested in applying for the Brandon Fellowship, please make sure to subscribe to GCCA’s emails to be notified when the call for application opens in June! Any questions can be directed to Gallery Director, Ben Tarcson at

Ensure Your Child’s Love Of Learning With These Simple Moves

Ensure Your Child’s Love Of Learning With These Simple Moves

Cultivating a love of learning in your child enriches their childhood and establishes a foundation for a life rich in exploration and discovery. This guide, courtesy of Greenville’s Center for Creative Arts, offers actionable strategies designed to inspire and sustain your child’s curiosity. Through these methods, you can ensure that the quest for knowledge becomes a pivotal and enduring part of their journey.

Leading by Learning

Your children look up to you more than anyone else, seeing in you the first and most influential example of how to navigate the world. When you actively pursue your own education, you communicate a powerful message: learning doesn’t end with school—it’s a lifelong adventure. Embarking on an online program not only showcases your dedication to personal growth but also your eagerness to delve into subjects such as medicine or the complexities of the human mind. For instance, with a degree in psychology, you can learn more about human behavior and help individuals in your community. And with so many flexible programs available, you can tackle a degree while continuing to work and take care of your family.

Creating an Oasis of Exploration

A home filled with books, educational gadgets, and creative tools invites your child to explore and learn. By making these resources easily accessible, you integrate learning seamlessly into their daily life, turning curiosity into a natural reflex rather than a chore. This environment acts as a constant invitation to engage with new ideas, fostering an atmosphere where questions are encouraged and every corner holds a potential lesson.

The Magic of Stories

Introduce your child to the boundless worlds within books early on. Regular visits to the library and a diverse home collection encourage a love for reading that will grow with them. This early foundation in literacy is crucial for developing critical thinking skills and a vivid imagination, setting the stage for a lifetime of exploration and discovery.

The Canvas of Creativity

Artistic expression offers a unique pathway to learning. Engaging in arts and crafts or signing up for a creative class together not only strengthens your bond but also opens your child’s mind to new perspectives and problem-solving approaches. This creative exploration is essential for nurturing an innovative and flexible mindset, providing them with the tools to think outside the box and express themselves in diverse ways.

Playful Learning

Transforming education into a playful adventure ensures that your child remains engaged and excited about discovering new things. Tailor activities to their interests, incorporating games and hands-on projects that make learning a joyous part of daily life. This approach makes education an interactive and dynamic experience, ensuring that learning is seen as an enjoyable journey rather than a tedious task.

Nurturing Passions

Every child has unique interests that, when supported, can blossom into lifelong passions. Whether it’s the arts, sciences, sports, or any other domain, encouraging these pursuits signals to your child that their interests are valuable and worth exploring further. This validation is crucial for their self-esteem and encourages them to delve deeper into their passions, fostering a sense of identity and purpose.

Applauding Efforts

Celebrating your child’s achievements fosters a positive association with learning and accomplishment. This encouragement boosts their confidence and motivates them to continue setting and reaching goals, knowing their efforts are recognized and appreciated. It teaches them the value of perseverance and hard work, building a foundation for future successes in all areas of their life.

Broadening Perspectives

Exposure to a variety of subjects and experiences is critical for helping your child find their passions and strengths. By encouraging exploration across different domains, you help them develop a well-rounded knowledge base and an adaptable approach to life’s challenges. This exposure not only broadens their horizons but also equips them with the versatility to navigate an ever-changing world with confidence and curiosity.

The journey to instill a love of learning in your child is one of the most rewarding paths you can embark on as a parent. By modeling curiosity, creating an enriching environment, and supporting their exploration and achievements, you lay the foundation for a lifetime of discovery. This commitment to fostering a thirst for knowledge ensures that your child will never lose the joy and wonder that comes with learning something new.



Greenville Center for Creative Arts offers creative workshops and classes as well as exhibitions. Why not visit with the whole family? Get in touch today to learn more about upcoming events!

Established in 2015 by a dedicated group of artists, educators, and community leaders, Greenville Center for Creative Arts is the area’s only nonprofit community art center focused on providing high-quality visual arts instruction and engagement. Be on the lookout for our business toolkit series which covers many of the tips above and more in various workshops. Visit us online to learn more!

7 Tips to Effectively Promote Your Creative Business

7 Tips to Effectively Promote Your Creative Business

Entrepreneurship can grant you the flexibility that you need to balance your career and your personal life. If you’ve always had a creative streak, this could be the perfect time to launch a business centered around your art! Today, Greenville Center for Creative Arts shares some tips from Anya with Fitkids to help you formally establish your business, create a multi-purpose office, and assemble a stellar portfolio – all while preserving your work/life balance.


1. Legally Establish Your Business

Once you’ve created a business plan, determined your specific offerings, and opened a bank account and credit card for your company, you’ll be ready to tackle the business formation process. Registering your company as a particular entity will determine everything from your tax filing requirements to your personal liability.

It’s possible to file on your own, but you might benefit from working with an online formation service to free up time in your own schedule. A service like this will file all of your required paperwork with your state and send you the additional paperwork you need.


2. Develop Your Business Acumen

Improving your business savvy is a pivotal step towards advancing your creative career, and one of the most effective ways to achieve this is by completing the process of a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree online. An online MBA program offers the flexibility to learn at your own pace, making it ideal for professionals who are balancing their careers with further education. It equips you with advanced skills in leadership, strategic thinking, and decision-making, all crucial for navigating the complex world of business. Additionally, an MBA broadens your understanding of core business principles such as finance, marketing, and operations management.


3. Curate Your Portfolio

Whether you’re a writer, photographer, or graphic designer, a strong portfolio will help you stand out amongst your competition. To assemble your portfolio, Creative Bloq recommends putting a collage with your finest work on your homepage, creating a unique “About” page, adding testimonials, and hosting about 20 pieces of work on your website so that you don’t overwhelm visitors.


4. Digital Marketing Strategies

Social media platforms serve as valuable marketing channels for creatives. To promote your work across social media, Art Business News recommends sharing the stories behind your pieces, scheduling live videos to connect with your audience, and consistently posting examples of your art.

It’s also important to make any digital content – from your website to your social media posts – include SEO (search engine optimization) strategies. If you’re not sure what that means then. This guide explains the basics of SEO and how to implement it in your digital marketing to organically grow your customer base. 


5. Physical Media Marketing

Marketing your creative work effectively often involves a blend of digital and physical strategies. One timeless approach is using business cards to get your name out there. In the digital age, the tangibility of a business card can make a lasting impression. By utilizing business cards templates, you can design a card that not only reflects your personal brand but also stands out in a sea of digital information. These templates offer a variety of designs and styles, ensuring that your business card aligns with your creative work’s aesthetic and message.


6. Join Online Groups

You can learn a lot from other creatives! By joining groups for creative business owners on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, you can network with people in your field, ask for advice, get referrals for new clients, and help out your fellow entrepreneurs.


7. Make Time for Self-Promotion

Running a business takes plenty of time, so you might be wondering how you can create room in your schedule for promotional activities. It’s important to include marketing tasks in your weekly schedule as an obligation. Designate a few tasks to take on each day, like creating two social media posts, commenting in three online groups, or responding to comments on social media. 


Grow a Successful Creative Business

Creating and promoting a creative business takes effort and dedication, but with proper planning, it can be an incredibly rewarding venture both financially and personally. With a little bit of creativity, hard work, and resilience, your creative business can thrive and make a difference in the world.



Established in 2015 by a dedicated group of artists, educators, and community leaders, Greenville Center for Creative Arts is the area’s only nonprofit community art center focused on providing high-quality visual arts instruction and engagement. Be on the lookout for our business toolkit series which covers many of the tips above and more in various workshops. Visit us online to learn more!





Guest Post

Anya Willis of Fit Kids

Anya Willis of Fit Kids

How to Create a Home Studio When You Have Limited Space

Creating a home studio to perfect your craft is easy when you have ample space. Otherwise, you may have to be more creative when converting a spare room into a dream creative arts studio. Wondering what to do with it once done? The Greenville Center for Creative Arts can give you the inspiration you need to maximize your new space.

Choose a Suitable Space

You’ll need to pick a space that could work for your studio. So, choose an area in your home where you can see some potential.

  • Pick a space that’s not used often, or that’s separate from the home, such as a spare room, an outhouse, or the basement.
  • Try to keep it as organized as possible. This will make it easier to hone in on what you’re good at without being distracted by clutter.
  • Make sure it’s inspiring by incorporating the necessary furniture and decor to help you be your best. Also, be sure to make it a comfortable area where you can relax so that you can envision your goals more clearly.
  • Look at the lighting and if it’s conducive to your craft. Soft lighting, such as warm and white lights, usually sets the right tone for a home studio.

Make Sure it Fits Within Your Budget

If you’re thinking of building a home studio, you’re probably hoping to save money with at-home facilities that you can use whenever, wherever.

Benefits of an At-Home Art Studio

There are many benefits to having an at-home art studio, apart from doing what you love most in a place you feel most comfortable in.

Upgrading your home to include an art studio is a smart investment move with many benefits. Not only can this improve your property’s value, but you can take full advantage of it to do with it as you please!

Greenville Center for Creative Arts is here to support the creative arts in our community. Let us know if you have any questions!





Guest Post

Anya Willis of Fit Kids

Anya Willis of Fit Kids

In an era where rapid changes and constant stimulation are the norms, it becomes increasingly important to focus on fostering a harmonious balance in our children’s lives. This balance, a blend of joy and mindfulness, is essential for their overall development and well-being. The Greenville Center for Creative Arts (GCCA) discusses eight strategies designed to enrich the lives of children with activities that are both enjoyable and nurturing for their mental and physical growth.

Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule

Implementing a regular sleep schedule is more than just a routine; it’s a foundation for healthy development. A consistent bedtime routine not only ensures that children get the necessary amount of sleep but also aids in regulating their circadian rhythms, leading to more restful nights. Such consistency is a subtle yet impactful way to foster a sense of security and well-being in children.

Foster Emotional Connections Through Quality Time

In the whirlwind of daily responsibilities, carving out quality time with children often takes a back seat. However, prioritizing moments with them is crucial for their emotional and social development. Strong familial bonds formed through shared experiences and attentive interactions lay the groundwork for emotional resilience and happiness in children.

Introduce Mindfulness Through Deep Breathing

Mindfulness is as beneficial for children as it is for adults. Teaching kids deep breathing exercises is a practical approach to helping them navigate stress and anxiety. This skill, cultivated from an early age, becomes a vital tool in their emotional toolkit, supporting their well-being throughout different stages of life.

Enhance Learning with Educational Toys and Tools

Investing in educational toys and physical activity equipment can significantly contribute to a child’s holistic development. Selecting items that stimulate both mental and physical growth, based on reliable reviews and research, can be a strategic way to encourage healthy habits and cognitive development in children.

Promote Nutritional Awareness and Healthy Eating Habits

Good nutrition is fundamental to both physical and mental health. Encouraging a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is pivotal for providing children with the necessary nutrients for their energetic play and learning activities. Such dietary habits set a strong foundation for lifelong health and wellness.

Allocate Time for Creative and Unstructured Play

Unstructured play is an indispensable element of childhood. Allotting time for children to engage in play without specific directions allows them to unleash their creativity and imagination. This form of play is not merely a source of enjoyment; it is critical for their cognitive and social development.

Encourage Self-Expression Through Art

Art offers a unique avenue for children to express themselves and explore their emotions. Engaging in artistic activities and even art therapy can be an effective way for children to process their feelings and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, all while embracing their innate creativity. 

Foster Reflective Thinking with Journaling

Journaling is a powerful practice for self-discovery and reflection. Encouraging children to maintain journals offers them a private space to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This practice not only enhances their writing skills but also fosters a deeper understanding of themselves and their emotions.

Integrating these eight strategies into the daily lives of children can lead to profound improvements in their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The aim is not to overload them with activities but to create a balanced and nurturing environment that supports their growth and happiness. By emphasizing both fun and mindful activities, parents and caregivers can guide children toward a path of well-rounded development and a fulfilling future.

Guest Post

Creating Works of Art: John Pendarvis

Creating Works of Art: John Pendarvis

Each year GCCA features over 100 local artists in its Annual Showcase during the months of August and September. The upcoming 2022 Annual Showcase will mark the seventh consecutive year of the exhibition. This showing of the community’s proliferation in the arts would not be possible without the generous support of donors, who in this case, double as the artists themselves. Those who donate $50 or more become members of GCCA and gain eligibility to showcase one of their artworks in the Annual Showcase. This exhibition is a non-juried opportunity and gives artists the freedom to display their own unique styles. 

For GCCA member John Pendarvis, donating to his local community art center can help serve many purposes. He states, “It is tough enough already for artists to find venues to not only show their artwork but also find places that serve as sources of encouragement.” By supporting GCCA, John hopes that his donations each year help artists of all ages to find courage in themselves to put brush to canvas and through the Annual Showcase, provide a venue for those artists to begin their art journey.

John is no stranger to GCCA or the Greenville art scene. He served on GCCA’s Main Gallery exhibition committee, helping create over 10 exhibitions. John is also a native South Carolina artist whose work reflects his love of music, and his Southern African American heritage. He shows his artwork across South Carolina but also participated in two of the past Annual Showcases at GCCA. In the 2021 Annual Showcase, John displayed his painting entitled “Boy In White Shirt.” John explains about the painting, “This was a statement piece reflective on black lives matters and the shooting of George Floyd. It represents all the black men that have a target on them figuratively and literally. I generally don’t do statement or activism pieces but I felt compelled to share my voice on this matter.” 

John plans to participate in this year’s Annual Showcase. He and many other local artists will have their work on display in the Main Gallery from August 5th to September 28th, 2022. Be sure to donate and submit artwork yourself before the July 22nd, 2022 RSVP deadline.

Creating a Network: Suzanne Woolf

Creating a Network: Suzanne Woolf

As a thriving community art center, an important aspect of GCCA is its volunteer network. Volunteers at GCCA help with the day-to-day operations including providing customer and docent services at the front desk and in the galleries, assisting with events and programming, and offering much-needed support for a small staff. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we’ve highlighted one of GCCA’s volunteers, Suzanne Woolf, who donates her time and talent each Tuesday morning manning GCCA’s front desk, as well as assisting with a variety of special projects. Suzanne is a mixed media artist with a home studio in the West End. She also teaches collage and mixed media as one of GCCA’s workshop instructors. 

Kara Bale, GCCA’s Operations Manager, had the pleasure of interviewing Suzanne to find out more about her background and volunteering at GCCA.

1. How and when did you first learn about GCCA?

When my husband and I first moved to Greenville I made an effort to stop in at some of the local galleries and the Metropolitan Art Council. I don’t recall who specifically directed me to GCCA but I’m sure it was one of those organizations.

2. What made you want to volunteer your time at GCCA?

I thought volunteering at an art center would be a great way to meet other artists and get to know the Greenville art community, and I was right.

3. Where are you from and how long have you been in Greenville?

I grew up in Minnesota but spent 25 years in and around Boston, which is where I met my husband. We moved to Greenville in 2015. We had grown tired of the winters and were ready for change. For me that meant leaving the corporate world so I could focus on my art full time and I haven’t looked back.

4. Tell me a little about your own art practice… What do you create and why do you like that medium?

My elevator pitch is “I am a mixed media and collage artist. I primarily use vintage papers and ephemera in the background. I then incorporate vintage photos as the focal point adding them using an image transfer technique with acrylic medium.”  I like the idea of the story that vintage materials provide, taking the discarded and giving it a new life. Who was the person that wrote that letter or what is the story of the person in the photo. It’s nostalgic and mysterious.

5. When you aren’t making art or volunteering at GCCA, what do you like to do with your free time?

When I’m not creating art I love making altered books and teaching classes, at GCCA and other locations. I also enjoy reading, running, baking, and spending time with my husband.

6. Do you have a favorite artist? If yes, why?

This is a very difficult question as I love a broad spectrum of art but two come to mind. I think Joseph Cornell was a master at assemblage, which to me is like a 3-D collage. Robert Rauschenberg’s use of everyday materials shows how art can be created from the most mundane materials.

Volunteerism isn’t only a key factor in the success of GCCA and other non-profit organizations, but also provides positive health benefits to those who do it, as detailed in this article from  Science Daily.

If you are interested in learning how you can get involved as a volunteer at GCCA, please email

Creating a Legacy: Laird Green

Creating a Legacy: Laird Green

As one of GCCA’s most dedicated cheerleaders and ambassadors, Laird Green, a Certified Financial Planner at Abacus Planning Group, can often be found at our First Friday events and bringing her friends and colleagues to view our exhibitions. But her strongest pull is toward GCCA’s educational ARTalk series, which her firm has generously sponsored since 2019. 

Abacus Planning Group is a fee-only financial advisory firm whose mission is to be a partner for entrepreneurial families with shared assets. Managing over $1.7 billion on behalf of its 250+ families, Abacus consists of a team of multi-disciplinary experts who work collaboratively to serve clients.

As we approach Thanksgiving, Laird explains that thankfulness is top-of-mind year-round for Abacus. “At Abacus, one of our cultural norms is to practice gratitude and we like to openly express our thankfulness in lots of different ways. We think that sharing gratitude is a joy, so we love times like this when we can give a personal shout-out to GCCA and the staff who make the mission a reality. We believe the ARTalks offer our audience the opportunity to interact with GCCA’s exhibiting artists from across the country and learn more about the creative process. “

Abacus Planning Group has three philanthropic pillars: social justice, education, and the arts. Their advisors practice their motto “create abundance” by helping their clients to set and pursue their financial goals as well as by giving back to the community. “We feel like by giving to organizations like GCCA across South Carolina, we can help everyone in our state live a more abundant life,” Laird explains. “We know that we thrive as an organization and individually when our communities thrive.”

When asked about why Abacus supports GCCA and what is meaningful about this partnership, Laird emphasizes how the ARTalks make arts education more accessible to the community and offer a chance for people from all walks of life to connect with the artists. “We think that the ARTalks beautifully connect the artists, and their stories and techniques, to fellows artists and others who are coming to listen and to learn more. Allowing the artists to share their stories is so powerful and the interactive format really engages the audience members who can ask questions and explore more.”

Laird and her colleagues at Abacus Planning Group are passionate about helping explore philanthropic giving with their clients. “We have a conversation with every client around goals for lifetime and legacy gifts,” she says, “and we help clients dovetail those philanthropic goals with tax-savvy strategies. For example, gifting appreciated securities, Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs), and using retirement account beneficiary designations to leave funds to a charity.” 

To learn about the many ways you can give to GCCA to support our mission, please contact Chelsea Rudisill, Development Director, at Thank you for considering GCCA when planning your year-end philanthropic giving. Thanks to a generous donor, your gift of any amount will be matched dollar for dollar until December 31, 2021.

Creating a Partnership: Jared Stanley

Creating a Partnership: Jared Stanley

For Jared Stanley, PhD, printmaking presents a fascinating and rewarding way to develop visual communication in his artwork. An Assistant Professor of Art + Design at Bob Jones University and the Chair of the Contemporary Print Collective (CPC), Jared was first drawn to printing in college and now passes on his knowledge teaching techniques in intaglio, relief, serigraphy, lithography, and additive processes.

“I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist, which meant I keenly felt the ‘work’ side of ‘artwork,’” he explains. “As a graphic design student in my first printmaking class, Harrell Whittington asked us to play with gesso, cut paper, hot glue, sand, and whatever other scraps we could find. The process in making that first collagraph was immensely freeing. ‘Play’ and ‘art’ had not seemed to go together before that.”

In his role at the CPC, Jared works alongside other members to create, exhibit, collaborate, and educate through printmaking and within the contemporary dialectic of art. The group seeks to foster an awareness of original, hand-pulled prints by promoting exhibitions, educational opportunities, and encouraging the art of collecting prints.  

CPC has enjoyed a partnership with GCCA for many years, using its facility as a meeting venue, for print fairs, and for exhibitions of local and international print exchanges. Now GCCA and CPC are poised to take their partnership to the next level with the opening of a new printmaking classroom as part of GCCA’s current upfit project, slated for completion in early 2022. “We are thrilled that GCCA has turned to our collective expertise to aid with the development of a printmaking classroom, and I am excited that there will be a shared space to help GCCA accomplish educational goals to expand the printmaking community here in Greenville.” Jared says. “The new printmaking space also will be a valuable resource for local printmakers to practice and produce their art. It can be difficult and cost-prohibitive for an artist to outfit a home workspace for printmaking. We hope that this space will encourage local artists to resume their exploration of printmaking processes and share their work and knowledge with our community.”

With this in mind, the CPC aims to make sure the space has the base necessities for a printmaker working in a variety of intaglio and relief processes. The classroom will include two presses, wash-sinks, paper baths, flat files, worktables, a clean room, and many other features.

Creating a Spark: Savannah Ralph

Creating a Spark: Savannah Ralph

Before painter Savannah Ralph was selected as one of the 2020-21 Brandon Fellows, Savannah admits, “I wasn’t creating much art, and I had zero connections with local artists. I was bad at maintaining a good practice ethic, I felt uninspired, and my skills and imagination were fading.” 

Something about the pandemic prompted Savannah to apply for the Brandon Fellowship, and when selected, Savannah took every opportunity to practice and learn. “Somewhere along the line, I got my creative spark back,” Savannah shares. “Instead of being an artist who only creates sometimes, I became an artist who creates daily. Not only have I improved my diligence, I have also discovered new talents.”

When the fellowship began, Savannah had no idea that a passion for teaching would develop. Now committed to and inspired by passing on knowledge to others, Savannah has become a regular and popular GCCA instructor in acrylic painting.

Savannah has also created a new network of connections with artists and art enthusiasts, as well as Anna Grace Burch and Evan Givens, the other talented 2020-21 Brandon Fellows. “We have wildly different creative processes and styles, but even with our differences, I believe we were able to inspire each other to do our best,” Savannah explains. 

The work of these three artists is now on display in GCCA’s Main Gallery as part of the Annual Showcase. They will also be sharing insights into their processes and experiences at an ARTalk on September 14 from 6-7 pm at GCCA that will also be broadcast on Facebook Live.

Savannah’s exhibition focuses on personal struggles with mental health. “The year of my Brandon Fellowship was one of the best and worst years of my life. I was given such an amazing opportunity, but I was also dealing with quite a lot of outside stress. My exhibition represents the complex intricacies of mental illness, my journey to self-discovery, and my search to find meaning in my hardships,” Savannah says. “For me, art is my catharsis. I have painful, overflowing emotions that I need to express. I’ve always found that expressing myself through visual images is easier than finding the words to describe it. Before I was a Brandon Fellow, I was much less confident in my artwork. As a neurodivergent person, I always felt like an outcast. I am confident in my work now, and my ultimate goal as an artist is to create work that viewers can look at and think, ‘I understand. I feel seen.’”

Creating a Composition: Flavio Varani

Creating a Composition: Flavio Varani

Effectively arranging the elements of a composition is key to achieving balance in any work of art. To Flavio Varani, that concept is fundamental. His career as an international concert pianist requires a balance between intuition and dedicated practice to truly thrive in that field. That sentiment should also be associated with his newest calling as an oil painter. “Visual art is simply an addition to my music,” he explains. “I already play music thinking through colors, shapes, and rhythms.”

Flavio recognizes the parallels between the visual arts and music. He chuckles, “Visual art is like music. You need an audience.” And he would know. Flavio plays classical sonatas across the globe from America to Japan and just about everywhere in between. When he is not traveling the world to perform in concert halls, Flavio can be found at GCCA in painting class, attending exhibition openings, or participating in the Annual Showcase. In each of the past three Annual Showcases, he has displayed a painting.

Flavio credits his entire painting class and instructor, Peggy Tanner Day, for the encouragement to exhibit his work. “My class is ideal for me.,” he says. “Peggy respects what I do, gives opinions, and answers my questions. She will find the best in you. That is exactly what I needed.”

Flavio continually seeks to learn, improve, and eventually, exhibit his work as a professional visual artist. His piece in this year’s Annual Showcase is titled “Artichokes and Flowers”. In the painting, he depicts an ensemble of artichokes in various sizes and colorations. He is intrigued by the nuanced greens in the petals in contrast with vibrant colors of their flower’s bloom. However, the importance of the vegetable reaches beyond that of colors. It also has familial ties.

“Artichokes were important in my childhood,” Flavio recalls. “My mother bought artichokes from a farmer. To make the farmer give us the beautiful artichokes, she made us kids play the accordion. So, we as kids, had to entertain the farmer for a better price.” 

Be sure to see Flavio’s work alongside many other GCCA members in this year’s Annual Showcase that will be on display until Wednesday, September 22.

Creating Future Artists: Eliana Kim

Creating Future Artists: Eliana Kim

This week, GCCA Summer Art Camp instructors, Olivia Hueble, Neci Harris, and Kirsten Bush, would like to shine the spotlight on a very special camper. Eight-year-old Eliana Kim has attended nearly every week of Summer Art Camp this year. We wanted to know why, with so many options for youth summer activities in Greenville, Eliana and her family chose GCCA.

Eliana and her mom, Kim, talked with Program Director Liz Rundorff Smith about hobbies, favorite mediums, and future goals. We hope you’ll enjoy the conversation as much as we did.

Be sure to visit the Summer Art Exhibition on Friday, August 6 from 6 – 9pm to see what our Art Campers created this year!

GCCA: Eliana, can you tell us a little bit about you? 

ELIANA: I am eight years old, and I love to draw and paint. I love biking, too. I have one brother and have one pet fish named Jelly.

GCCA: Why did you choose to come to art camps at GCCA this summer? 

ELIANA: I chose to come to art camp at GCCA because I wanted to experience different kinds of art using different materials, and GCCA was perfect for that. Each week, I was able to work with different materials such as clay, printmaking materials, and fiber art. 

GCCA: You’ve participated in several weeks of camp. Can you tell us which week of camp has been your favorite and why?

ELIANA: Clay camp has been my favorite so far because it was my first time working with clay, and I got to build a sculpture with it. It was very fun and a new experience for me. I learned that when clay is breaking, you use water on the clay.

GCCA: Why do you think art is important?  

ELIANA: I think art is important because it brings out a person’s creativity and allows people to share it with each other.

GCCA: What kinds of art projects would you like to do more of in the future?

ELIANA: I would like to do more painting in the future because it is my favorite activity, and I can also learn about different types of paints to create my artwork.

Creating a Voice: Jordan Winiski

Creating a Voice: Jordan Winiski

Jordan Winiski first learned about Greenville Center for Creative Arts five years ago when she was a high school student attending the Fine Arts Center.  Jordan wanted to get involved in the arts community outside of the classroom so she volunteered to help with the kid’s activity during a First Friday at GCCA and found a place where she could see that people of all ages felt included and supported.  Jordan knew that being part of GCCA would help to foster her love of the arts and her desire to teach so she continued to find ways to get involved.  

The arts have been important to Jordan for as long as she can remember.  For Jordan, art provides a way of thinking, communicating, problem-solving, learning, and expressing herself.  Growing up Jordan remembers her gramma taking her to art museums and always having a new package of Model Magic for her to play with. Because Jordan’s family values and appreciates art, she has always felt supported enough to pursue her interest.  In addition to family support, Jordan credits amazing art teachers who inspired her and made her want to pursue becoming an artist and an art teacher.  She recently graduated from Furman University where she majored in Sustainability Science and Studio Art with a concentration in ceramics.  

With a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree under her belt, Jordan hopes to continue teaching and creating ceramic artwork before pursuing a Master of Fine Arts Degree in the future.  Jordan is currently a lead art instructor for GCCA’s Summer Art Camps and will be offering Functional Sculpture for Teens on Tuesdays from 1 – 4 pm beginning July 13 and Sketchbook Design for Teens on Thursdays from 1 – 4 pm beginning July 15 this summer.  

As a teacher, Jordan hopes to cultivate a community of young artists who are able to discover an artistic voice by bringing their interests to life through visual art.  In the classroom, Jordan incorporates experiential activities and community engagement to help students develop a connection to a broader sense of self.  She encourages students to consider how pulling from experiences outside of the classroom will impact how they choose to express themselves as artists.  Jordan believes that education is critical at all ages and finds that GCCA is unique because it is an organization that provides programs for all ages and skill levels, combines an inclusive vision with community outreach, and fosters a deep commitment to education. As Jordan states, “GCCA is a crucial part of a thriving community that fosters collaboration, student ownership in their work, social activism, personal expression, and overall a lifelong investment in the arts.”

Creating Opportunities: Bill Stephenson

Creating Opportunities: Bill Stephenson

“What GCCA offers isn’t being done anywhere else in Greenville,” says Bill Stephenson, and he should know. Bill has been an avid art collector and arts enthusiast, advocate, and philanthropist in Greenville for many years. He has made it his mission to support local artists and has served on the board of several Greenville nonprofits. Since retiring from a career in banking, Bill continues to serve on the board of directors for the Metropolitan Arts Council (MAC) and is a member of GCCA’s Development Committee as an ambassador for fundraising. But perhaps Bill’s most influential contribution to the arts community is his personal art collection. Bill is pleased to share that now over 90% of his collection is made up of the work of local artists.

At a GCCA community artists’ show several years ago, Bill bought a piece of artwork from an emerging artist who had been taking classes at the Art School with artist Pat Kilburg, a GCCA instructor and current Board Chair. The artist approached Bill, thanking him profusely and could barely contain his excitement. Later, Bill found out that he had purchased the very first piece this artist had ever sold. It was not only a meaningful moment for the artist, but is a memory that has stuck with Bill.

Experiences rubbing shoulders with emerging artists and seeing first-hand the impact of offering fledgling artists opportunities to learn and grow as creatives fuels Bill’s passion for the arts. “I think scholarships and programs like the Brandon Fellowship are important for the growth of young and budding artists to have more opportunities in the arts. The welcoming environment at GCCA provides art education and support to artists at all levels, which is a big reason why I give to GCCA.”

When he first learned about the inception of a new organization in GCCA, Bill immediately recognized the need for an art center to provide hands-on art instruction at all levels from novice to professional. He recalls getting a tour of the former Brandon Mill that would soon be home to GCCA and being excited that this historic property would also be a community hub for the visual arts. He was also impressed by the tenacity and foresight of the founders, particularly the women leaders who had a vision, saw an opportunity, and took action; and it made him want to get involved. 

Bill is excited about GCCA’s role in strengthening Greenville’s reputation as a “city of the arts.” “My donations allow GCCA to continue to expand its offering of art classes, grow its programs for emerging artists, and showcase exhibits that feature artists both locally and from across the county. I am excited about the future of GCCA and want to play a part in its growth and success.” In so many ways, Bill’s service and philanthropy are creating opportunities for local artists and contributing to their long-term success. 

We are thankful for dedicated supporters like Bill who make it possible for GCCA to fulfill its mission. We cannot do this work without you! If you’d like to contribute to GCCA’s Annual Fund, please click here. We appreciate your support!

Creating a Path: Thomas Hicks

Creating a Path: Thomas Hicks

Even though he is only a teenager, Thomas Hicks’s path has already been full of twists and turns. As an elementary school student, he aspired to be a banker–that is until he entered middle school and discovered a passion for the arts.

His first love was singing, but stage fright prevented him from being accepted into Greenville County Schools’ prestigious Fine Arts Center as a freshman. So he pivoted again and found his niche. “I started taking pictures on my phone, setting up scenes, and experimenting with light and composition,” he explains. “This inspired me to pursue the visual arts.”

When he applied to the Fine Arts Center as a sophomore, he was accepted. Thomas’s medium is still-life photography, and while he shoots primarily in digital, he also works with Polaroid and medium-format cameras. He enjoys finding beautiful places and setting up things around them, like fruit or other objects, to create unique compositions.

Thomas will be one of seven Fine Arts Center full-day students whose work will be featured in GCCA’s Community Gallery from May 7 through June 23. The exhibition will explore the definition of place. From themes like place in society to place in evolution, these advanced young artists will showcase how high school students view not only themselves, but the world around them. They will also take part in shadowing GCCA’s Gallery Manager, Ben Tarcson, to learn how to design a show.

Thomas’s work will be a collection of collages that include found materials and family images processed in cyanotype that he hopes will evoke a sense of nostalgia. “I want people to think about their own childhood memories and make new ones by putting themselves in the shoes of the people in the images,” he shares. “I have not been to many galleries before, so I am excited about this opportunity for me and my peers to see the potential of our work. It will be a great experience for our future careers to install these pieces and learn about that process.” 

As to where his path will take him, Thomas says, “College is the goal, and I’d also like to get an arts internship. Longer-term, I see myself living somewhere pretty in the countryside practicing as a working artist, making prints of my work, and collaborating with other artists to create something special.”

Creating a Community: Tania Ro

Creating a Community: Tania Ro

Growing up in Juarez, in the border between Mexico and the United States, artist Tania Rodriguez Ortega (known as Tania Ro) learned to survive amidst chaos and the constant threat of violence by emulating the strength of the women in her family and the feminist artists and writers who motivated her to find success. Tania learned to work hard in the face of danger by following the mantra, “Do not live borrowed dreams”. As a young woman, she cultivated an interest in feminism and women’s rights with the influence of writers like Virginia Woolf and Elena Poniatowska.

In Juarez, she studied business administration and pursued an independent education in art history, drawing, and painting. “Saturnino Herrán and Remedios Varo are painters who inspire and motivate me to paint from observation,” she explains. “I consider observation the most important part of my artistic process.”

Indeed, the ability to appreciate her surroundings and find the beauty in intimate moments gave Tania the desire to form a new path as an artist when, eight years ago, she, her husband, and their small child moved from Mexico to Greenville. What Tania at first thought was the end of the professional life in manufacturing she knew in Juarez, became an opportunity to grow and pursue new talents in a new place.

She started taking classes at GCCA with instructor Diarmuid Kelly and soon found that painting became a way to share her worldview and promote change. Last week, Tania moved into Studio F at GCCA where she hopes to “create work that promotes the voice of women artists and is part of the continuous changes in Greenville and in the world.” Although it is difficult to start over in a new place, for Tania, a sense of community is vital and it is the desire to find a supportive community that brought her to GCCA.

Creating a Perspective: Yvonne Julian

Creating a Perspective: Yvonne Julian

A self-described “hobbyist painter” since her early 20s, Yvonne Julian signed up to take a watercolor class several years ago after hearing about GCCA from friends Jim Gorman and Carrie Burns Brown, and she hasn’t stopped since. In 2019, she joined the GCCA Board of Directors and is now Vice President, as well as an avid painter who is continually honing her craft. “The quality of GCCA’s product and the passion, commitment, and competence of the founders made me want to get involved,” she says.

As a girl growing up in Chicago, Yvonne dreamed of becoming a scientist, not an artist. “The first toy I ordered from the comic book store was a rocket ship you glued together, and I was always growing bean plants in the window of our high-rise apartment.“ she says. Yet she always admired her brother, who she calls “the family artist.”

Yvonne earned a college degree in chemistry and a Master’s in Business Administration before launching her career at Dow Chemical Co. in California, where she worked in manufacturing for many years before retiring and eventually moving to Greenville, SC. Her educational background has led to a keen interest in exploring the connections between art, science, and mathematics.

Yvonne is currently creating a watercolor piece she calls Prisoner of Time. “The painting addresses two ideas I find interesting—chronometry and inevitability, and also the appeal of a personal space for intellectual pursuits,” she explains. “The title conveys the passage of time as a resource we cannot get back or hold on to, and the image depicts a man chained to an hourglass.”

Yvonne believes art is a vital platform to share and express a variety of perspectives. When asked about her thoughts on the role of the arts in promoting racial equity and amplifying Black voices, she explains, “I think that the arts have had and can continue to have a huge impact in emphasizing the critical role that Americans who descended from slaves played in building the foundation of our country—whose contributions are symbolic of the American story and our country’s ideals.“ She explains, “GCCA should make people aware of a broader spectrum of Black American artists like James Van Der Zee, Edmonia Lewis, and Dox Thrash—to offer perspectives that they may not see in today’s mainstream Black art arena. As a community art center, it’s important to show artwork that depicts common experiences shared by people, particularly in certain regions. I shared some black and white photographs of people in Appalachia with my mother and she was shocked because due to segregation and being raised poor in the South, she had only experienced seeing poor Blacks and whites with means. She had never seen whites in a similar economic situation as the way she was raised.”