Alumni interviews: CCAD through the years

CCAD has educated young artists since 1879, so we’ve got a lot of history—not to mention more than 10,000 living alumni. We just can’t resist dipping into their wealth of untold stories. Most recently, we delved into our records to identify a graduate from every decade for which we are lucky enough to have a living alum. We asked them all just one question: What was CCAD like when you were a student?*

Edmund Kuehn (CCAD 1938) Unfortunately Edmund was a bit under the weather when we went to do our interview, but we had the pleasure of speaking with his wife, Liese Kuehn (who also studied at CCAD), about his time here.
“Edmund had teachers who knew he was unusually talented and helped push him that way. But his fascination with art developed entirely on his own. At CCAD, he studied all the movements and got to know them well. He just took what suited his style.”

Roy Doty (CCAD 1942)
“My teachers at CCAD wanted me to be a great artist, but all I wanted to be was a cartoonist. I hung in there, didn’t change, and it was tough. People will try to change you, and you may not make it. But be yourself and dedicate yourself to something you think is worth it, even if it’s oddball—especially if it’s oddball! I only do me. And I’ve outlasted everybody.”

Joseph Grey (CCAD 1950)
In the ’40s and ’50s, the school was much smaller, so students could spend a lot of time after classes sitting around and ’chewing the fat’ with the instructors. It was like a close-knit family that could discuss all types of creativity—dance, music, art, theater, etc. Every student at the school had his or her own vision of how they saw their field—be it fine art, sculpture, architecture, advertising—and how the school provided the means to achieve their dreams.”

J. Luray Schaffner (CCAD 1962)
“We were all kind of free spirits back then. No real worries, although we thought we had the weight of the world on our shoulders. Nothing compared to today. We were extremely lucky.”

Bing Lee (CCAD 1977)
“In four years of college life, I spent most of my time in the V-Hall, a new concrete building, where the classrooms, workshops and the library were under the same roof. I had no problems working on my photographs, ceramics and prints inside a room without windows, I even enjoyed working long hours in such environments that I rarely paid attention to time. On the other hand, I did admire the huge windows in the library. I spent many hours there looking out those windows enjoying the sun and cleansing my mind. The CCAD extra-curricular programs added another dimension. For one year, I got a work-study job as archive assistant at the Columbus Museum of Art and had the opportunity to take close looks at the works of George Bellows and the Ashcan artists. For another year, I joined the CCAD VanArt program, which was sponsored by the Post Office with their donation of two mail trucks. I drove the VanArt II filled with art supplies to teach drawing in nursing homes. (This service is now considered art therapy, but CCAD was experimenting with it more than three decades ago.) Ultimately, the most memorable event was my first Thanksgiving at CCAD. It was like an intimate family dinner in a big office. Since I became a part of the CCAD family, when people asked me ’Bing, where are you from?’ I said, ’CCAD, I grew up there in the seventies.’”

Kellie Lewis (CCAD 1989)
It was the bridge of time where things were going from handmade to computer generated. I got to stand in both worlds.”

Bruce Hull (CCAD 1998)
I lived through [all the major] technological changes while going to CCAD. Sometimes it was a mixed blessing. On one hand, homework projects could be completed a little faster. On the other hand, the projects could be completed faster only if you had the computing power to do it. There were more than a few times when the computer would crash because a file was too large. And of course it only happened in the middle of the night before it was due. As computers became more prevailent, I saw more students foregoing handwork for digital work. Our instructors would constantly remind us that the computer was just a tool – like a paintbrush – and not to rely too heavily on its use. You gotta love ’Undo’ though.”

James Griffin (CCAD 2005)
“We were fortunate enough to have all sorts of great new software and computer labs, but also have teachers adept at teaching a great variety of traditional techniques.”

*Ok, actually we asked a lot of questions, but we can’t tell you everything at once! Stay tuned for more from these fascinating interviews.