GPS Awards Fletcher Bright Fellowship for 2023-24

Julia Steffner to curate art exhibit and develop peer mentoring program
Most Chattanoogans remember the spirit and creativity of the late Fletcher Bright, a talented bluegrass fiddler who dedicated his life to sharing his gifts with others. Following his passing in 2017, Bright’s daughter Lizzer Bright Graham ’77 wanted to honor his legacy through a gift to Girls Preparatory School that celebrates the arts. The result was The Fletcher W. Bright Fellowship for Inspiring Artistic and Community Engagement, an endowed program that offers an annual award to a rising senior.

First awarded in 2019, the Fletcher Bright Fellowship was established to foster and instill individual growth, to develop a discerning sense of inquiry, and to explore an area of concentration that brings excitement and sensitivity of wonder in a student. Recipients should create projects that will make a difference in the Chattanooga community. 

After an application process that included a complete and detailed proposal, timeline, and budget, a committee of judges awarded the 2023-24 Fletcher Bright Fellowship to rising senior Julia Steffner. Julia, a talented dancer and member of GPS’s modern dance company Terpsichord, plans to host an art exhibit pertaining to the topic of sexual and reproductive rights. Held at Stove Works in October, the exhibit will also give exposure to adolescent and adult artists in the community.

Julia hopes her project inspires not only creativity but also encourages conversation surrounding women's health in the United States, saying the idea came to her based on conversations she’s experienced among friends and family, and the world as a whole. She explains, “To create submissions for this exhibit, the artists will have to think critically about how women in America have been deprived of their sexual and reproductive rights. My exhibit would encourage critical thinking from the viewers as well, as it will influence them to reflect on the art they see and the message it sends.”

In addition to curating the exhibit, Julia intends to have a peer mentoring aspect of the program, where adolescent artists can regularly gather to learn from each other as well as more established artists in the community. Through this program, she will also provide art supplies using a portion of the budget awarded to her through the fellowship.

Julia, whose love for dance began when she took her first class as a sixth-grader at GPS, says what excites her most about the project is meeting other motivated artists in the community. “It is inspiring to see artists who want to make a difference in the world,” she says.

High school students interested in submitting artwork and/or participating in the peer mentoring program can fill out the Young Artists Exhibition Form here to receive further information.