Meet CCAD’s Class of 2021 Outstanding Seniors
Each year, Columbus College of Art & Design faculty selects an Outstanding Senior to represent each major. This honor recognizes these students’ academic and artistic accomplishments. Read more about the Class of 2021’s Outstanding Seniors in their own words below:
ADVERTISING & GRAPHIC DESIGN
Loving all things creative since before she can remember, Fredi Bockover’s artwork hangs on the refrigerators of many friends, relatives, and strangers in her hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio to this day. Bockover grew up doing theater, drawing lots of cards, singing to anyone who would listen, and was widely known throughout her elementary school as the “Queen of Bubble Letters.” She began developing a personal brand (before she even knew what that meant) by wearing a hair flower every day since seventh grade. Between all of her card-illustrating, personal brand-development, and bubble letter-making, Bockover’s love of all things creative grew as she did, leading her to major in Advertising & Graphic Design at Columbus College of Art & Design. With all of her creativity, it only made sense to also double minor in Illustration and Business.
During her four wonderful whirlwind years at CCAD, Bockover was on the leadership team for CCAD’s Ad/Graph Collective, was an Admissions Student Ambassador (smiling really big at everyone she met while giving campus tours); was Campus Life Representative for the Student Government Association, and worked as a Resident Advisor in CCAD’s residence halls for two years. Bockover was on the President’s List for all four years of college. In addition to that honor, she also has received a Silver ADDY award and two Columbus Society of Communicating Arts Creative Best Awards for her creative works. Most notably, Bockover’s biggest takeaway has been all of the amazing and talented human-beings she has met while at CCAD, whom she is lucky to now call her mentors and friends.
After graduation, Bockover plans to attend graduate school to become an elementary school art teacher and hopes to find work designing and illustrating greeting cards, art for children, or anything else fun and colorful to hopefully hang on many refrigerators around the world.
Taylor Gandy was born in Hamilton, New Jersey. During her teenage years, Gandy’s family traded in the snow shovels and winter clothes for sand shovels and flip flops when they moved to Wesley Chapel, Florida. Gandy grew up watching her dad illustrate children’s books; this inspired her to explore her own artistic path. Gandy enjoyed studying animals, mythical creatures, and dinosaurs and she drew them on any surface she could find. As a teenager, Gandy began to investigate how animation and games were made and she filled every hour of free time with art classes. After high school, Gandy pursued her associate’s degree, and taught art to students ranging from age 4 to 65.
After earning her associate’s degree, Gandy transferred to CCAD, where she found a vibrant and inspiring community of artists. She started her studies thinking she would just refine her drawing and modeling skills, but Gandy soon found a wide array of opportunities ranging from animation production management to creating cardboard enrichment items for animals at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to generating a VR (virtual reality) experience with 99P Labs. Gandy has consistently been on the President’s List. Just like the variety of classes she experienced at CCAD, Gandy is keeping an open mind to new opportunities after graduation. Gandy continues to grow her network and she looks forward to where her skills will lead her.
COMICS & NARRATIVE PRACTICE
Lexi Ramos grew up in the small town of Cortland, Ohio. Ever since she was young, Ramos had a love for art and drawing out her own little worlds. While her mom would be getting groceries Ramos would stand in the magazine section of the grocery store and read through the weekly Shōnen Jump magazines, which helped solidify her love for the comics form. When she visited New York City’s National Portfolio Day she learned at CCAD’s table that a comics major was being offered. She found that the school for her wasn’t that far from home—which is great for a person terrified of the world.
During her time at CCAD she found an amazing community and honed her skills as an artist. Ramos became more confident in her comic-making and how to handle herself in a professional environment. In 2019 she started her internship as an Electronic Design Specialist for Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation where she experienced firsthand what it’s like to work as a professional, corporate artist. She participated in CCAD’s anthology class (which produces the comic Spitball), for two years and had wonderful experiences collaborating with comic professionals through the class. After graduation she hopes to continue her work with BWC, create her own webcomic, and stay connected with the wonderful comics community.
Eli Secrest is a Columbus native. Raised in their parents’ arts and crafts gallery in the Short North Arts District, they have always been surrounded with creativity and an appreciation for handmade goods. In high school Secrest received an extensive education in welding and fabrication, which allowed them to work off-campus their senior year and graduate with a field-related job in 2016. Later, they pursued an education at CCAD, majoring in Contemporary Crafts and graduating early with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fall of 2020.
At CCAD, Secrest learned countless new skills, exploring the gamut of craft-related courses offered at the college and frequently experimenting with fusing them together in interesting ways. For example, in glassblowing, they used their jewelry skills to make objects out of copper and fuse it to glass in the hotshop. This inquisitive vein led Secrest to create a series of masks for their senior thesis. Those masks incorporate a wide range of materials such as felted wool, glass, sterling silver, plastic, paper, resin, and gemstones. Some of their works also have a kinetic functionality that further elevates the designs.
In filming and sharing their thesis creation process, Secrest grew a following of more than half a million followers on TikTok. Secrest, who has been nominated to apply for the Windgate-Lamar Fellowship, continues to make art in Columbus and accepts commissions for work and sells their jewelry online. Secrest can be found on TikTok (@aerarius) and on Instagram (@aerarius_metalworks).
Jesamie Houghtby grew up in Mount Gilead, Ohio. They have been creating ever since they could, making work ranging from drawing to musical arts to fashion design. Before they transferred to CCAD for Fashion Design, they were a Fine Arts major. They did not know that they would soon be exploring the lines between fashion and art, and learning that those lines did not have to be so rigid.
During their time at CCAD, Houghtby has developed their own unique style of fashion and has explored ways of pushing the boundaries of gender, sustainability, and function in fashion. As a result of being surrounded by death in their last two years of college and through the COVID-19 pandemic, they became interested in the death positive movement, which encourages people to talk more and create art about death. Their thesis collection, “amelioration // reclamation,” is inspired by the movement.
Houghtby, one of three co-Valedictorians for the Class of 2021, is thankful for the relationships that they formed at CCAD with students, faculty, and staff alike, and even started the Deep Roots Plant Club with a friend. Houghtby’s work has been shown at the Columbus Museum of Art, the Cloud City Multi-Media Bazaar, The Dollhouse Magazine fashion show, and will be showing their line of 12 looks in Chicago Fashion Week. Post-graduation, they will be working as an Assistant Designer at Abercrombie & Fitch. They hope to eventually attend graduate school to continue further exploring the lines between fashion and art.
FILM & VIDEO
Sarah Ann Bieber
Born in Kansas and raised in Lancaster, Ohio, Sarah Ann Bieber has always gravitated toward thinking outside of the box. At age nine, she became enchanted with filmmaking after seeing James Cameron’s Avatar in theaters. Witnessing the endless possibilities one could create on screen instantly captured her heart. Filmmaking, especially directing, became her one passion, and she would often say her goal was to be the youngest director to win an Oscar.
Before her arrival at CCAD, Bieber didn’t have many art classes available to her, so she would create independent video projects whenever she could. Now, when she’s not making films, you can find Bieber painting, playing Just Dance, or learning something new.
Bieber has been a President’s List honoree each of her semesters at CCAD. Her work ethic earned her the honor of being one of the Valedictorians for the Class of 2021 after just three years at CCAD. She has had multiple pieces shown in CCAD’s Chroma: Best of CCAD showcase, her experimental video POP was featured in the Young Hearts 9 exhibition at Sean Christopher Gallery, and she received a bronze Telly Award for her work on the music video October in 2020. Bieber also is President of CCAD’s Film Collective.
After graduation, Bieber plans to continue improving her craft, working on freelance projects, and making a name for herself in a career she loves.
Jiwoo Choi was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea; Choi graduated from the selective Seoul Arts High School. With her knowledge and know-how of the school, she taught and mentored prospective students who wanted to join the school at private academies. She transferred to CCAD in the fall of 2019 because she wanted to build the necessary skills and to showcase her art in hopes to be internationally recognized for her work.
Choi is a painter and sculptor who chooses her colors to express feelings of isolation and loneliness as well as positive energy. She wants her viewers to reflect about themselves and find their own emotions. She became interested in art when she tried to recreate an image of a street light show. She became fascinated with colors because of this, and began to study fine arts at age 11.
At CCAD, Choi has been on the President's List for Academic Excellence every semester since transferring. Her work has also been on view at the Sean Christopher Art Gallery's Young Hearts exhibition and at the Eastern Michigan University's Fresh Looks 2021 exhibition. After graduation, Choi plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree and then open her own art studio and gallery.
Annalise Barber grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, spending hours upon hours in art classrooms after school. In her family household of music, art, and literature enthusiasts, she always found an artistic venture to explore. During high school, Barber illustrated for an author and attended art classes at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. But, she wondered, how does someone become a professional artist? Barber figured that, instead, she’d pursue a career in teaching language arts (a noble but secondary interest).
That soon changed.
Following the guidance of her art teacher, she visited CCAD. It felt like home, an inviting universe of artistic possibilities. She applied, received an acceptance letter, and chose to study Illustration and Creative Writing. At CCAD, Barber assisted Saturday Morning Art Classes, worked in the College Preview program, and helped other local art classes. Barber’s illustrations earned her recognition as a finalist at the 21st Art of Illustration Show (AOI); later, she won an Honorable Mention at the 22nd AOI. Developing her craft as a writer, she was recognized as runner up in the poetry category in CCAD’s 5th Annual Creative Writing Awards. Barber also performed as a guest in multiple readings at CCAD’s Red Wheelbarrow (including Red Wheelbarrow: The Podcast).
With so many passions, the next half of Barber’s creative career seems just as possibility-filled as the first. For now, she ventures into the realm of children’s illustration and education. And whatever route Barber chooses, she will continue to pursue her values: creating art and caring about people.
Aaron Jeschke was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has always enjoyed creating with his hands, with art class being his favorite. His interests in LEGOs and art laid the foundation for his development as a designer. As a young teen, Jeschke would dream of one day working for LEGO, but it wasn’t until his junior year of high school that Jeschke learned about industrial design and found it to be the right fit for him to study. So he applied to CCAD.
At CCAD, Jeschke was engulfed into the vast world of design through diverse projects. He discovered design research and decided to pursue it as a minor. He worked as a lab monitor in the Fab Lab where he would help fellow students with their laser cutting and CNC machining projects. In 2019, Jeschke’s mailbox design earned him a first-place win in WinSell Granite’s annual student product design competition. Later that year he worked on a project with 99P Labs and CCAD that eventually led to an internship with Honda. Most recently, Jeschke volunteered for a weekend with Form5 Prosthetics to create a bike prosthesis for a four-year-old boy.
After graduation, Jeschke hopes to find a full time position in one of his areas of interest such as exhibit, retail, or product design (though a position at LEGO remains the job of his dreams).
INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
Sophie Randall transferred to CCAD in 2018, quite literally stumbling into the school and falling in love with the small classes and dedicated faculty environment. Born and raised in Litchfield County, Connecticut to furniture designers and vintage/antique dealers, Randall has always been surrounded by creativity. While her true love for interior design started in high school, and was developed working at Connecticut-based firm Hendricks Churchill, coordinating logistics for designers, it wasn’t until she came to CCAD that she began to find her own voice within design.
During her time at CCAD, Randall has cultivated impactful relationships with her faculty and classmates and has loved the trust, creativity, and freedom of expression she has found within her classes. She consistently thinks beyond project prompts, creates design in an artful way, and is always considerate of the user experience.
Outside of the classroom, Randall has worked on Special Topics projects such as one with the Ohio History Center, has been a recipient of the Discovery District Scholarship and has been on the President’s List since her arrival at CCAD.
After graduation, Randall will move to Manhattan to officially start her career in interior architecture and design. She is eager to be a part of a larger firm and collaborative team atmosphere.
Adam Fakult grew up in Bucyrus, Ohio. His initial degree was in Video Production and his goal was to work in television. During his last semester he was shown a documentary on Richard Avedon and discovered his true passion for photography.
After his first degree and working at a photo studio Fakult decided to enroll at CCAD. With the help of the Chris Haines Endowed Scholarship, he was able to pursue his new dream. He explored different genres of photography including commercial and documentary. Through the help of the faculty, he learned concepts that allowed him to tell a story through the lens.
Fakult interned with 614 magazine, where he assisted and styled on professional sets. He has published his work as well as shown in galleries on campus. After graduation, Fakult plans to continue to hone his craft while producing meaningful work. He also hopes to find work in the commercial realm and continue to challenge himself with new opportunities in the future.
CCAD celebrates its 142nd Commencement on Saturday, May 15, at 10 a.m. (EDT). Visit ccad.edu/2021graduation for more.