The Unexpected Between Beauty and Pain, Savannah-based Painter Via Li

Via Li is a painter based in Savannah, GA. Traditionally trained at a young age, Via found her voice in art early on. Via has always maintained a passion for fine art and painting and studied Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Via’s art focuses on the challenges and injustices that women face each and every day. Drawing on her own life experiences, Via brings a woman’s heart and soul into the spotlight, and forces viewers to contemplate and confront their own place within the artwork.

Flow, 48x36in, Acrylic on Canvas, 2022

Thank you for your time, Via. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Thanks for the opportunity! My name is Via Li. At the end of last year, I completed my master’s degree in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art & Design. I’m a painter currently residing in Savannah, Georgia.

What brings you to art? What ideas are you exploring in your creative practice?

I’ve dreamt about being an artist since I was a kid, but there were many difficulties along the way. In real life, it’s not easy to become a full-time artist! Between pressure from my parents, financial and other challenges, I chose textile design as my major in college, since that is easier to find work with. However, I never gave up on drawing and painting. By chance, I became a freelance illustrator. I felt lucky to be doing something that was so close to what I love.

When I was applying for my master’s degree, I still wasn’t brave enough to study fine art, so I decided to study illustration. However, I was able to take many painting classes during my studies, which gave me much more confidence. After those classes, I decided to become a professional artist! These classes showed me what it feels like to do something I genuinely love. I was completely immersed and enchanted, and was so happy to express myself through my art. I was also so happy to see people loving my work. My first collector, for example, gave me a lot of encouragement to become a professional artist.

My artwork addresses women’s emotions and the challenges and injustices they face daily. My work explores the power hidden behind feelings and represents how women handle and harness emotions. I always use myself as a reference in my works to represent issues I personally face as a conduit for the more significant idea of women as a whole. 

Under the water, 48x36in, Acrylic on Canvas, 2022

What is the most exciting project you’ve done or accomplished so far?

As an artist, it’s never good to sit still and become complacent. One always needs to challenge oneself. So, I think the most exciting project will always be in the future. While each work is uniquely satisfying in its own way, I am always looking forward to the next challenge. I always want my next project to challenge and satisfy me in a new way.

In the Wind, 48x36in, Acrylic on Canvas, 2022

What does “community” mean to you? How do you see yourself in a community?

As artists, it’s so important to support one another, so I believe community is vital for us. I love interacting with other artists and seeing what challenges they face or the unique perspectives they bring to the conversation. In this way, our collective voices can be shared with a wider audience.

An Option, 48x36in, Acrylic on Canvas, 2022

Is there any advice that you would offer to others?

For anyone that is seeking advice on becoming an artist full-time, I would like to reinforce how important it is for an artist to find and focus on what they truly love, then do that with courage. And never give up! 

Fog, 54x35in, Acrylic, Pastel and Marks on Canvas, 2022

text & photo courtesy of Via Li

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