Greenville native Savannah Ralph had always felt that the local art scene lacked diversity.
It’s one of the reasons the 24-year-old artist applied for and received the Brandon Fellowship, a 12-month program by the Greenville Center for Creative Arts that helps develop emerging artists who represent the diversity of the community. As one of three 2020-2021 Brandon Fellows, Ralph gets access to free studio space, classes at GCCA and local artist mentorships.
“I heard about the program through my art teacher from the Fine Arts Center and was interested in it ever since,” Ralph says.
A 2-D artist who mostly draws and paints, Ralph says she uses her artistic voice to speak out about issues she’s seen and experienced.
“I faced a lot of hardships in my life as a poor, mentally ill member of the LGBTQ community, and my art reflects that,” Ralph says. “There’s so much going on the world right now, and it’s impossible for me as an artist to not depict these issues.”
A figurative painter, Ralph’s work usually involves themes involving gender and racial equality, beauty standards, political injustice and mental illness.
“I enjoy depicting people who I feel are underrepresented in art — women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community,” Ralph says.
Her love for art started at a young age.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an interest in art and particularly with capturing people,” Ralph says. “It started out with simply drawing pictures in crayon when I was 4 and gradually moved to a more professional level.”
While she attended the Fine Arts Center and Greenville Technical College for visual arts, Ralph says she’s mostly a self-taught artist.
“The Brandon Fellowship was perfect for me because it encourages artists to work independently, but it also helps you form connections in the Greenville art scene,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed the program thoroughly so far, and I plan on taking full advantage of my studio space as well as the free classes that the program has to offer.”