SBCC artist named winner of Presidential Purchase Award

Sierra Shelton, Staff Writer

City College student and prolific artist Grace Fisher has been selected as this year’s Presidential Purchase Award recipient.

Each year, City College’s president purchases art that resonates with them from the Annual Student Exhibition. Fisher’s piece, “The Goldfish’s Sequel,” captured Interim Superintendent-President Helen Benjamin attention and led her to choose Fisher for the $300 scholarship and a spot on Benjamin’s office wall.

Fisher said she was honored to be in the gallery, as she took her first painting class ever this semester.

Inspired by a class assignment to recreate a famous piece, the Santa Barbara native made the artwork her own with the original fish bowl under a prying Tabby cat surrounded by eye-catching hues and abstract patterns.

The painting stood out for more than it’s vibrant array of bold colors. Every stroke on the canvas was done by mouth.

Fisher was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis five years ago, a rare neurological condition with polio-like symptoms.

“After a short while Grace was able to convey nuanced instructions to her aide who acted as hands for her when mixing colors,” Art Professor Christopher Ulivo said. “It took her a bit of time to figure out how to get a broad range of marks from a brush using only your mouth and head movements.”

She engages in various hobbies in her free time and encourages other peers and children with special needs to do the same and find solace in making unique art.

“I write music and I paint a lot with my mouth, and I hang out with my friends,”

Currently majoring in music composition at City College, creating musical scores is a significant part of her life. Her top two favorite film scores come from recent Grammy nominated movies, “La La Land” and “Call Me By Your Name.”

Fisher’s own score, composed in December 2018, was performed by the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. The concert sold out, with over 800 people in attendance.

Created in 2016, Fisher is the founder and creative director of the Grace Fisher Foundation.

The foundation holds local interactive events and programs for special needs kids and their families. Recently, the foundation made postcards with a floral painting by Fisher on the front.

“With these type of things, and in my foundation too, I’m kind of a control freak and I have a particular vision of how I want things to look and feel when you’re there,” Fisher said. “It’s not just an event. It’s like creating an experience.”

Fisher is making the most of her last semester at the college. She has two paintings and another music score in progress.

She will be transferring to UC Santa Barbara this upcoming fall in the College of Creative Studies but “The Goldfish’s Sequel” will remain in Interim-President Helen Benjamin’s office for the next year.