Photo from Winter, 2020 Savannah Women of Vision (Michael Porten Art Process) at Arnold Hall, Savannah.

‘Savannah Women of Vision’ celebrates trailblazing women of Savannah

Savannah is rich with history, and woven in the fabric of its history is are many remarkable and influential women with vision to make their communities better. 

“Savannah Women of Vision” created by SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace, commemorates a select group of leading women every two years. This year the new honorees will be celebrated on Friday, Feb. 11.

“Women have not always had the light shined on them. President Wallace felt that it was really important to shine a light on the women that have shaped Savannah and Georgia,” said Kari Herrin, Vice President for Brand Experience at SCAD.

This year’s honorees are Linda Evans, Sarah Mills Hodge, Joyce Roché, and Gale Singer, who will join the 17 other women inducted in 2016, 2018 and 2020. These women are being honored for their peerless valor, humanity and intellect that have helped transform Savannah into a better place.

President Wallace’s “Savannah Women of Vision” investiture was born after she was in the proscenium in the university’s historic Arnold Hall where a grand 1930s New Deal-era mural depicts titans in Savannah history, all of which are men. 

Right away, Wallace noticed the absence of strong female leaders and sought to right this wrong by creating the “Savannah Women of Vision” installation.

 “Savannah as we know it rests on the triumphs of its women; mothers, entrepreneurs, authors, patriots, philanthropists. I created the ‘Savannah Women of Vision’ investiture to illuminate trailblazers and their transcendent work, keeping their names and deeds not only in our hearts but publicly acclaimed. These are our heroines,” Wallace explained.

Each “Savannah Women of Vision” inductee is honored with a large, gilded relief portrait hand-carved by SCAD alumnus Michael Porten that is permanently installed on the walls of the Arnold Hall theater. 

“To create these beautiful portraits of the honorees that now flank the walls of Arnold Hall is amazing. We still have the beautiful mural of the Titans of Savannah that are all men, but we also now have many women that we have celebrated. Now when you walk in the theater you can see all of these women from past and present that have shaped Georgia,” said Herrin. 

The stories of the “Savannah Women of Vision” are also brought to life in “Etched in History,” an original SCAD film narrated by celebrated actor Phylicia Rashad. 

Honoree Sarah Millis Hodge was born in Savannah and she was a staunch advocate for the less fortunate in her community. As the beneficiary of a considerable trust from her husband, engineer Henry Wilson Hodge, she established the Mills Memorial Home for elderly Black men, made generous contributions to the rebuilding of Charity Hospital, and financed the Frank Callen Boys Club building and programs, among other philanthropy. 

Honoree Linda J. Evans, a Detroit-area high school science teacher for 26 years, was instrumental in establishing the first Medical and Natural Sciences Career Academy for high school students in the Southfield Public Schools system.  In 2006, Evans and her husband, Walter, gifted more than 60 of these major works to the SCAD Museum of Art, forming the foundation of the museum’s Evans Center for African American Studies. 

Honoree Gale Singer Gale Singer is founder and president of Circa Lighting. Prior to moving to Savannah in 1997, Singer worked for Visual Comfort & Co., the leading manufacturer of decorative lighting founded by her brother, Andy Singer. In 2017, Singer was recognized by the American Society of Interior Designers’ Georgia Chapter.

Honoree Joyce Roché served as the president and chief operating officer of Carson, Inc. in Savannah from 1996 to 1998. Roché has also served as executive vice president of global marketing for Avon, becoming the first African American woman to hold the position, as well as the chief executive officer and president of Girls, Inc. from 2000 to 2010. 

More information about the work of these four women can be found online at the “Savannah Women of Vision” page linked below.

The four new honorees will be recognized, and their relief portraits will be unveiled at a public celebration on Friday, February 11 at Arnold Hall, located at 1810 Bull St.  

SCAD is also hosting special public tours on Saturday, Feb. 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  

During the year, the university offers tours of the installation in Arnold Hall to K-12 students and educators.  A free curriculum guide offers historic perspective to the portrait installation.  

For more information or to schedule a tour, visit scad.edu/savannahwomenofvision


     

Kareem McMichael

Kareem McMichael is a filmmaker, documentarian, writer, and multimedia content creator. The Macon native enjoys entertainment, and sharing with locals and visitors’ stories about Savannah’s art and culture scene. When he is not working, he enjoys relaxing at the beach, grabbing a beverage, hitting a fun art event,...
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