Savannah Women of Vision
Words by Sarah Deloach
In today's day and age, celebrating strong women is more important than ever. Savannah is a city full of rich history and important people, but oftentimes it is the men who are honored for their contributions. Savannah College of Art and Design President and Founder Paula Wallace decided to highlight women for their remarkable ideas, insightful leadership, and distinguished service, which in turn, weave a legacy that forms the foundation of any community.
Wallace started Savannah Women of Vision in 2016 to bring recognition to all of the strong female leadership and its importance in society. She chose Arnold Hall for the investiture to right the historical record inbuilt in the theater, where a grand 1930’s mural depicts titans in Savannah history--notable in its omission of women.
Now 21 gold relief portraits of women of peerless valor, altruism and intellect, carved by SCAD alumnus Michael Porten adorn the walls. This year Linda Evans, Sarah Mills Hodge, Joyce Roché, and Gale Singer joined the exclusive list of impressive women.
“When SCAD students, guests, and school children visit the Savannah Women of Vision gallery in Arnold Hall, I want them to look up at those 21 radiant cartouches—including the four we’re soon unveiling, for Joyce, Linda, Sarah, and Gale—and I want them to feel inspired, loved, and seen. I want these students to know that smart, fearless women have always made history in Savannah. SCAD believes in shouting that gospel from the rooftops,” said Wallace.
A teacher for more than two decades and a lifelong volunteer, Evans made a substantial contribution to Savannah when she and her husband founded the Evans Center for African American at the SCAD Museum of Art which forever educates, illuminates, and advocates for a remarkable community.
Hodge was a white woman who played a significant role in the advancement of black Savannah in the 1920s. Aptly named “The Angel of Savannah,” her philanthropic spirit lives on. The Hodge Foundation has donated over two million dollars to community organizations.
Singer elevated Savannah as the flagship for lighting design retail. Today, Circa Lighting is the foremost lighting retailer in the country. With thirty-five showrooms stretching coast to coast.
Roché’s career is defined by success. She has served as a CEO, chairwoman, trustee emerita, and recipient of Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Women of Power Legacy Award. She is also an author and a role model of how to succeed in everything you do.
"I was surprised and honored when I found out I was going to be a Savannah Women of Vision inductee. President Wallace asked the important question, 'where are the women?' When you exclude women you are missing out on fifty percent of the population. Having a visible representation of women is very important for young women and all women, it shows what's possible," said Roché.
Wallace and SCAD will continue to celebrate women and their contributions. The “Savannah Women of Vision Etched in History” film, profiles on the recipients, details on how to schedule a tour can be found at scad.edu/savannahwomenofvision.