Women of Vision with Paula Wallace
SCAD Announces New Savannah Women of Vision Honorees
Community Invited to Celebration on February 9 at Arnold Hall
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) President and Founder Paula Wallace celebrates Georgia Day with five new Savannah Women of Vision honorees.
Recognizing women of peerless valor, altruism and intellect, the investiture welcomes Miriam Center, Edna Jackson, Mary Lane Morrison, Fredericka Washington and Sema Wilkes into its elite cadre of Savannah trailblazers. The university invites the public to join the celebration at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9 at Arnold Hall, located at 1810 Bull St.
This year’s honorees join the original 10 Savannah Women of Vision, inducted in 2016: Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth, Abigail Minis, Mother Mathilda Beasley, Juliette Gordon Low, Flannery O'Connor, Nancy N. Lewis, Emma Morel Adler, Frances Wong, Alice Andrews Jepson and Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears.
As a permanent tribute, portraits of the five women, carved by SCAD alumnus Michael Porten (B.F.A., illustration; M.F.A., painting), will adorn the walls of Arnold Hall, home to SCAD’s School of Liberal Arts.
Wallace created Savannah Women of Vision to elevate recognition of strong female leadership and its salutary influence on society. She chose Arnold Hall for the investiture to right the historical record inbuilt in the theater, where a grand 1930s New Deal-era mural depicts titans of Savannah’s history — notable in its omission of women.
With the addition of this year’s five honorees, Wallace establishes a vital tradition of civic recognition for the city, commending and commemorating the profound influence of women whose ingenuity and dedication have indelibly shaped Savannah Wallace created Savannah Women of Vision to elevate recognition of strong female leadership and its salutary influence on society. She chose Arnold Hall for the investiture to right the historical record inbuilt in the theater, where a grand 1930s New Deal-era mural depicts titans of Savannah’s history — notable in its omission of women. With the addition of this year’s five honorees, Wallace establishes a vital tradition of civic recognition for the city, commending and commemorating the profound influence of women whose ingenuity and dedication have indelibly shaped Savannah.
The public ceremony will be hosted by former Savannah Women of Vision inductee Alice Jepson, and will spoken and sung performances by SCAD alumnae. Throughout the year, the university will offer tours of the Women of Vision portrait installation in Arnold Hall to K-12 students and educators. A free curriculum guide provides historic context to the portrait installation.
“It goes without saying that women have contributed as much as men to the flourishing and success and vitality of Georgia,” said SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace. “Savannah Women of Vision is a recognition of their life’s work, and an opportunity to honor their legacies.”
2018 SAVANNAH WOMEN OF VISION
Miriam Center (1926 – present)
Miriam Center grew up in Savannah, graduating from Savannah High School in 1944. As she raised her three sons, she started her own real estate business, serving an instrumental role in the construction of the Savannah Civic Center. In the 1980s, she moved to Malibu, California, earned a degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica and established the celebrated women’s spiritual group, Daughters of Destiny. After moving to Atlanta in the late 1990s, she returned to Savannah and began writing, publishing and editing. She authored “Scarlett O’Hara Can Go to Hell,” her coming-of-age tale of life as a Southern woman, and memorialized her friendship with Academy Award-winner Johnny Mercer in the musical “Johnny Mercer & Me,” which debuted in 2012. Center continues to enjoy travel, writing and contributing to Savannah’s culture.
Mary Lane Morrison (1907 – 1994)
Mary Lane Morrison created an invaluable scholarly archive for the city of Savannah through the study and documentation of her native Savannah’s buildings, parks and squares. Morrison collected, transcribed and catalogued newspaper clippings and Savannah City Council minutes, photographed buildings and preserved the names of architects, owners and construction dates, and served on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society. Through her authorship of John S. Norris: Architect in Savannah 1846-1860 and editorial contributions to Historic Savannah: A Survey of Significant Buildings in the Historic and Victorian Districts of Savannah, Georgia, Morrison helped establish an historical record and legacy that continues to benefit her community.
Edna Jackson (1944 – present)
Edna Jackson’s lifetime of civic engagement began at the age of nine, when she joined Savannah’s NAACP Youth Council. During the Civil Rights movement, she was among the students who joined the sit-ins at downtown businesses, including the Azalea Room, now the site of SCAD’s Jen Library. A graduate of Savannah State University, Jackson joined the staff of her alma mater, gathering a broad range of experience in counseling, admissions, alumni affairs and recruiting. Her political career began as a three-term alderman at large on the Savannah City Council, followed by two terms as mayor pro tem. In 2011, Jackson became the 65th mayor of Savannah, the first African-American woman to hold that position in the city. She has continued to earn awards and accolades including the Savannah Civil Rights Museum Unsung Heroes Award, the NAACP Freedom Award and the Equal Opportunity Association Martin Luther King Service Award.
Fredericka Washington (1903 – 1994)
Fredericka “Fredi” Washington was born, and spent her girlhood, in Savannah. She began her career as a dancer before acting for stage and screen, becoming one of the Harlem Renaissance’s most widely recognized performers. Washington’s best-known role was in the 1934 film Imitation of Life, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Through her film career and a desire to expand opportunities for black actors and actresses, she helped found the Negro Actors Guild in 1937. Washington was also a theatre writer, served as entertainment editor for the newspaper People’s Voice, and worked as a film casting consultant for a Broadway revival of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and film Carmen Jones, starring Dorothy Dandridge. In 1975, Washington was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.
Sema Wilkes (1907 – 2002)
Sema Wilkes, raised on a Georgia farm, began cooking for her family and their workers at the age of seven. In 1943, she moved to Savannah with her husband and children, and took over a boarding house, transforming it into Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. Catering to locals and travelers, and offering hearty meals served family style, Mrs. Wilkes’ rapidly became a thriving fixture of downtown Savannah. Its reputation, built on word-of-mouth, made Wilkes an ambassador for the city and state. Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room has welcomed notable figures like former President Barack Obama, Robert Duval, Kate Smith, and Gregory Peck. Wilkes has won many accolades, among them the Al Burress Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Tourism Council.
About Paula Wallace
Paula Wallace is the president and founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design, a private, nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to prepare students for creative careers. Under Wallace’s leadership, SCAD has grown to 45,000 students and alumni, expanded to four global locations (Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; Hong Kong), increased its endowment from less than $1 M to $128 M, and gained international renown for its preeminent education and professional preparation.
Wallace is known for creating SCAD signature events, including the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, SCAD deFINE ART, SCADstyle, SCAD aTVfest, and SCAD FASHWKND. Her publications include children’s books, interior design books, and a memoir, “The Bee and the Acorn.” Wallace has been named among Condé Nast’s “Daring 25,” DesignIntelligence’s “30 Most Admired Educators,” and Blouin Artinfo’s “Power List: High-Wattage Women of the Art World.” She serves on the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
SCAD: The University for Creative Careers
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution conferring bachelor’s and master’s degrees at distinctive locations and online to prepare talented students for professional careers. SCAD offers degrees in more than 40 majors, as well as minors in more than 75 disciplines across its locations in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia; in Hong Kong; in Lacoste, France; and online through SCAD eLearning. With more than 35,000 alumni worldwide, SCAD demonstrates an exceptional education and unparalleled career preparation. The diverse student body, consisting of nearly 14,000, comes from across the U.S. and more than 100 countries worldwide.
In 2017, the prestigious Red Dot Design Rankings placed SCAD as the top university in the United States and in the top two universities in the Americas and Europe. Career preparation is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni placement rate. In a study of Spring 2016 SCAD graduates, 98 percent were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation. For more information, visit the official SCAD blog.