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.’”