Healing, Exploring, and Art-Making

Danny Stock

In the spring of 2021, current GDS students Nava Mach ’23 and Maya Cruz-Hubbard ’24 spoke with Savannah Imani Wade ’17 about their artist’s journey through GDS and on into their senior year at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Learn about the multi-disciplinary artist, performer, and arts educator from Washington, DC, who currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, through Nava and Maya’s eyes.

Arts at GDS

As we talked to Savannah Wade, it became clear that the most influential part in their art journey was the art program at Georgetown Day School. Michelle Cobb, chair of the High School Studio Arts department, guided Savannah throughout the most crucial part of any artist’s process: the strong foundation. Michelle emphasized the importance of color theory and figure drawings, which proved central to many of Savannah’s pieces. Savannah was pushed harder than ever before to produce the best work that they could and be prepared for the art world outside the GDS bubble.

Yes! The key foundations of art that they got from GDS’s art program seem to have had a significant impact on Savannah’s art career. They mentioned that they weren’t fixed on studying art in college after high school, but that’s the direction that their life took them in. I’m sure the decision was influenced by their time experimenting with art here during high school.

Art Study in College

What I most clearly noted about their experiences in college was the way that they appreciated the community they formed in that new environment. While high school might give one a chance to meet a variety of people, college is on another level. It’s often exciting to create new connections with strangers and they can also serve as learning experiences. Savannah talked about how nice it was to meet people that had a similar interest in art, yet differed from them in other aspects of their life. Savannah continues to implement the core concepts that they learned in GDS art classes in their current college art. They’ve also been experimenting with different mediums, from papier-maché masks to oil paintings. They said that all of these different mediums and the different motions and techniques used to create different art have provided new and interesting experiences. Overall, they’ve found themselves in a community with helpful peers and professors alike and seem to be enjoying their college experience as their senior year comes to an end.

Savannah is a General Fine Arts major at the prestigious Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). They explained that part of the beauty of the General Fine Arts course of study is the amount of freedom that one can have. Savannah has explored many different media in school like fiber art, sculpture, classical drawing and painting, and even chalk pastels. For Savannah, working in fiber arts is empowering. Sewing, knitting, and felting historically carries a stigma as a folk art that only housewives do. There is a social movement sweeping the world that advocates for the inclusivity of less western forms of art specifically made by black and brown women. Savannah is proud to be a part of that movement. In addition to their GDS art education, college has provided Savannah with some tools that they would not otherwise have used. 

They have learned how binding the structure of art history is. Historically, white European men are celebrated in the art world. Now Savannah tells us how art can also be ongoing; a conversation between artists and audience, if you will. For their thesis, Savannah chose to create a mixed media installation. The theme surrounds the idea of ancestral healing. In the space given, they displayed colorful and unique masks that each have their own story. In their time at MICA, Savannah explored new ways of understanding their art practice and created new boundaries in the process.

Advice to younger artists

Savannah’s advice to us is to use whatever materials that one can find and just run with what you have. It is ok to be unsure about your future path. In Savannah’s words, “Don’t be afraid to draw nonsense!”

Savannah told us that it is also important to meet new people and make many connections to have your art seen by many eyes. Schools should help fund local artists to keep the art world alive and growing.

Since graduating, Savannah has worked as an arts educator with Jubilee Arts, an Intersection of Change Program in partnership with MICA, delivering dance, visual arts, ceramics, and youth business classes plus public art projects to bring the arts back to life in Baltimore-area communities. Savannah is currently participating in the Organizing Black Freedom Fellowship 2021. Their work continues to explore self “predominantly through the intersections of ancestral spiritual wisdom, feminine and Mother archetypes, and dream analysis,” they said. Savannah’s interdisciplinary approach tells the continuously unfurling “story of healing, reclamation of power, and joy within herself.” 

Follow and support Savannah Imani’s art on Instagram and on their website.