CCAD grads craft artistic approach to combating bullying

It’s no secret the life of a teenager can be challenging. For many, that’s not just coping with difficult classes, conflicts at home, maturing identities, and part-time jobs, but also dealing with bullying.

A group of Columbus College of Art & Design grads is spearheading a creative new approach —  Art Your Way — intended to help high school students cope with the stress of bullying.

Four students drawing with pastels

Through the program, 10 Columbus high school juniors and seniors receive one-on-one mentoring from creative professionals and art therapists. They’re encouraged to develop both resilience in coping with bullying (through topics such as self-care, building connections, and considering those outside the classroom), and also portfolio-ready artwork while learning new artmaking techniques, such as photography, animation, videography, and sculpture.

“The idea is the student will leave with a toolkit of art skills and a toolkit of skills to manage bullying within their own lives,” said Madeline Miller (Illustration, 2015), one alumni leading the initiative, born from a 2014 Liberal Arts class project between CCAD and the You Will Rise Project with students from the Arts and College Preparatory Academy.


“In these trying times, it’s more important than ever to bring awareness to issues of abuse, discrimination, harassment, and oppression affecting all ages, races, and backgrounds,” said Miller, cofounder and executive director of Art Your Way, and a programming director with You Will Rise.

Student holding sign that reads You are worth so much

From noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, the teens’ work will be on view in the Art Your Way gallery show at Wild Goose Creative as part of the Columbus Open Studio and Stage weekend. Students from the workshops will be present at the show to discuss their artwork.

Miller and fellow You Will Rise programming director Bethany James (Fine Arts, 2016), Shelby Maier (Interior Design, 2017), and Jason Elizondo (Fine Arts, 2018) developed Art Your Way. (Another key team member, Nate Cole, is public relations coordinator for the project, and has worked with You Will Rise since the group’s first exhibition in 2012 at the Columbus Museum of Art.)

Students drawing
Students drawing and painting with different materials
Teal, pink, and black drawing
Students looking at a computer

The program’s pilot received $5,000 from McGraw-Hill Education for supplies, and its organizers hope that, with additional financial support, they can increase the frequency of its workshops (which are free to students) as well as pay its artist-mentors.

“Art is a form of communication, and we see this as a way to help students develop a healthy process to communicate their feelings, to understand that art can be a career, not just something you do in your free time, and that they can work on something bigger than themselves,” Miller said.

All images are courtesy of Art Your Way.

Learn more about CCAD's Fine Arts program, Interior Design program or apply here.