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Columbus College of Art & Design students arrive with talent and promise, and graduate with those qualities—and so much more. Our alumni are professionals and leaders in culture and commerce. They make our world a better place. A more inclusive place. A more beautiful place. One that functions better for all.

Each year, CCAD recognizes some of our outstanding alumni with our Alumni Awards. And this year, we were aided in that process by our inaugural 12-member CCAD Alumni Advisory Board, who aided in selecting the winners from the pool of nominees submitted by our community members.

CCAD alumni make meaningful art & design contributions

This year’s Alumni Award winners distinguished themselves for their meaningful contributions to the creative arts and to their communities. Winners were selected in three categories: Emerging Leader, Community Impact, and the Joseph V. Canzani Alumni Award for Excellence.

Robert Coles (Retail Advertising, 1995), senior director of creative and digital services at Stanford University, is chair of the inaugural Alumni Advisory Board, and says the nominee pool “was truly impressive”—and made selecting this year’s winners “both challenging and rewarding.”

“The variety of artistic disciplines represented, coupled with the depth of impact in their respective fields, demonstrated the richness of CCAD's alumni contributions to the creative landscape,” he continues.

We’ll be announcing this year’s Alumni Award-winners all week, right here, so stay tuned!

Cameron Granger

Emerging Leader Award
Cameron Granger

(Cinematic Arts, 2016)
Fine artist
Columbus, Ohio

“Cameron Granger’s ability to capture the essence of storytelling through visual mediums was outstanding. His work displayed a profound understanding of narrative aesthetics, pushing the boundaries of traditional storytelling within the visual arts.”

—Robert Coles

Cameron Granger began making work with cultural impact well before his 2016 graduation from CCAD—and he’s not stopping any time soon. Granger, a Cleveland native who moved to Columbus to attend CCAD, has achieved success as a fine artist and filmmaker and continues to build an impressive resume that includes prestigious awards and residencies, as well as an inclusion in the Forbes “30 under 30” in 2020.

Granger is an alumni of the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture’s intensive nine-week summer residency program for emerging visual artists and of the Studio Museum in Harlem AIR program (the latter of which resulted in a group show at the famed MoMA PS1.)

In summer 2023, Granger’s Before I Let Go (originally screened at MoMA PS1) toured the East Coast and took home Best Experimental Film and the Audience Choice awards at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia.

Currently, Granger is part of the inaugural In Situ Fellowship at the Queens Museum of Art. The fellowship includes a solo show, 9999, which will be on view at the museum May 19–Sept. 22, 2024. The museum’s exhibition description says, “In 9999, Cameron A. Granger unmasks power structures and their hidden, yet accumulative, violence in shaping Black neighborhoods. … For his solo exhibition, Granger will debut film, installation, and sculptures that combine histories of Black magicians and conjurers with the iconography of video games to examine the insidiously concealed influences of urban planning on Black communities. Through this narrative framework, Granger exposes the spellbind of racist city planning and offers talismen and other charms as both a passage to safety and a tool to break free.”

Examining the Black experience and the impact of institutions on Black people has long been a focus for Granger. In 2016, he, Jacob Mason-Macklin (Fine Arts, 2017), and Tyler Davis (Fine Arts, 2018), were among the artists with work in the show BOOST MOBILE (curated by Mason-Macklin), which drew the attention of Vice Media’s The Creators Project. In 2022, his work addressing prison abolition was highlighted in Hyperallergic.

Granger’s post-CCAD CV also includes curating the short film program Free Space at the acclaimed Wexner Center for the Arts, where he also presented Everybody’s got a little light, under the sun (a program that included a partnership with vegan soul food eatery Willowbeez Soulveg to pass out 100 grocery kits among community members), and having one of his video works, This Must Be the Place, acquired by the Columbus Museum of Art. His work has traveled around the world to such places as India and Finland, and Granger himself has lectured or held residencies at such institutions as Oberlin College; University of Illinois, Chicago; California Institute of the Arts; and Denison University.

Granger creates community with his art. “His art practice is inspired by the archival and homemaking practices of his grandmother, Pearl, figuratively quilting his communal and family histories into new futures through the use of film, photography, and sculpture,” wrote Granger’s Alumni Award nominator.

“His work not only draws upon his own communities, but seeks to expand them and build connections of inclusivity across time zones, regardless of societal barriers.”

“Art–making can be such an isolating thing,” Granger has said. “It’s easy to be the artist in the studio, not really interfacing with anything else but the thing you’re making work about, and using whatever you’re looking at as an extractable resource. But … I want to make sure I’m not just taking from my community, but pouring back into it.”

Granger has seen how art can effect change—and how artmaking can be leveraged to connect people in need to those with resources. For instance, in 2020, he hosted The Get Free Telethon, a 24-hour livestream telethon sponsored by Red Bull Arts that raised funds to support Ohio grassroots organizations—the Black Queer Intersectional Collective, Columbus Freedom Coalition, and Healing Broken Circles.

Granger “continually reaches goals beyond the measure of what is expected of him, and continually advocates for his peers in their strides to reach similar achievements,” wrote his award nominator.

Cameron Granger learned the value of community at CCAD

Granger says his time at CCAD taught him the importance of community. “When I would find myself struggling in classes, it was my loved ones both on- and off-campus who loved on me and helped me find ways to keep going,” he says. “Whether it was a late night convo in Kinney Hall, a meal cooked by a mentor, or just a hug, it was my people that held me down. There are many ways to be an artist, but my time there taught me that the best ones, for me, all tie back to being a part of something larger than oneself.”

His advice for CCAD students and young alumni

Granger encourages CCAD students and recent alums to pay attention to the people around them, who already love and support them. He continues, “everything you need to get where you want to go is already right there.”

“The vast majority of opportunities that I've received over the years have been a direct result of the people around me holding me down and speaking my name in rooms I wasn't even in,” Granger continues. “Don't get caught up in trying to gain recognition or co-signs from people you think are above you—that'll come anyway. Working horizontally, with people you trust, who really know you, will get you so much farther than you even realize.”

Find Cameron Granger on his website, Vimeo, and Instagram.

Erin Iozzi’

Community Impact Award
Erin Iozzi

(Media Studies Still-Based, 2003)
Founder and president, Capturing Courage
Hilliard, Ohio

“Erin Iozzi stood out prominently, carving a distinctive mark through her exceptional dedication to her creative craft. Her ability to capture powerful visual stories set her apart, showcasing talent, depth, and emotion.”

—Robert Coles

Erin Iozzi was inspired to create the nonprofit Capturing Courage in 2018 after she and her husband, Mike, welcomed their son, Joseph, at only 24 weeks. Joseph, born in October 2012, was a “micro-preemie,” and remained in Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s NICU for months after his birth. Six months after Joseph’s birth, wrote her Alumni Award nominator, “a volunteer photographer came into the unit and gave them a precious gift of family photos and photos of Joseph. This led Erin on her mission to provide that same service to families currently in the midst of their NICU journey.”

With Capturing Courage, Iozzi uses her creative and professional skills, as well as her lived experience as a “NICU mom,” to help other families in need. Since its founding, the nonprofit has provided over $175,000 worth of photography services to 327 NICU families.

In addition to providing her photography to families, Iozzi runs the administrative, fundraising, and social media aspects of Capturing Courage, which is now an official vendor for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, serving NICUs throughout the Columbus area.

Iozzi also has given generously of her time to supporting families experiencing situations similar to her own. Her work includes serving as a:

  • panelist at Nationwide Children's Hospital NICU retreat in 2016
  • six-year volunteer on Nationwide Children’s Family Advisory Council’s Neonatal Services Committee

Capturing Courage, reads Iozzi’s Alumni Awards nomination, “has achieved remarkable creative excellence in its mission to support NICU families through the art of photography. By capturing precious moments for these families, they have offered them a unique and heartfelt way to document their child's journey in the NICU. Their creative vision and expertise have provided families with beautifully composed and emotionally resonant photographs, becoming a source of solace and strength during challenging times.”

“Erin,” wrote her nominator, “brings a sense of normalcy to the parents in the NICU by giving them her gift of photography. Even if the baby passes (which is the reality of the NICU), their family will have the memory of the experience forever.”

Iozzi’s Alumni Award nominator quoted a NICU mom whose baby had been photographed by Iozzi. The parent said of Iozzi, “Her work is phenomenal and it meant so much we could trust someone that understood the fragility of our baby and circumstances; she captured the experience in a beautiful and incredibly tasteful way that we will always cherish.”

CCAD student experience has lifelong impact

Iozzi, a Louisville native who moved to Columbus in 1999 to attend CCAD, says experiences and lessons from her time as a student continue to reverberate in her life.

“CCAD taught me grit, determination, and creative problem solving which come in handy not only in my work, but in every aspect of life, including overcoming trauma,” says Iozzi.

Erin Iozzi’s advice to CCAD students and young alumni

“My advice to current students and alumni is that graduation is just the beginning of your journey as an artist,” says Iozzi. “Always be open to change and embrace new tools and technology as they come. Never stop learning. And, by all means, find an internship. Even if it is unpaid, the experience, connections made, and lessons learned are invaluable.”

Find Erin Iozzi on LinkedIn; connect with Capturing Courage on its website, Facebook, and Instagram. See WBNS-TV coverage of Iozzi and Capturing Courage here.

Olivia Pendergast

Joseph V. Canzani Alumni Award for Excellence
Olivia Pendergast

(Illustration, 1993)
Fine artist
Nairobi, Kenya

“Olivia Pendergast’'s innovative approach to her craft was truly inspiring. She stood out for her mastery of technique and powerful ability to communicate to viewers using relatable experiences.”
—Robert Coles

Holly Mae "Olivia" Pendergast was born in Florida and reared in Appalachia before coming to Columbus to attend CCAD. At CCAD, “she majored in Illustration, but took every Fine Art course that could be squeezed into her semester’s tuition,” according to her website biography. After graduating CCAD with an Illustration degree, Pendergast worked in LA as a special effects artist for film and television, working for the likes of Makeup & Effects Laboratory, Rhythm & Hues Studios, and Paramount Studios.

Pendergast worked in film and TV before deciding to pivot to a fine arts practice. Since deciding to pursue painting full-time, she has lived and worked in a variety of locations, including Salt Lake City and Seattle in the U.S. (Notably, Pendergast was voted “Best Utah Painter” by Salt Lake’s City Weekly newspaper.) She also has traveled extensively to such countries as Malawi, Haiti, and Bangladesh; has had solo shows in Rome and Dubai and has been involved in the Hamptons Art Fair. Her works have won national awards, have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the U.S., and are in the Salt Lake City Arts Collection.

Three of Pendergast’s works were purchased by Uhuru Kenyatta, former president of Kenya, where she currently resides with her 11-year-old daughter, Amadi. Pendergast is represented by galleries in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah, and counts among her most recent projects the two-person show Harmony of Humanity, on view Jan. 20–Feb. 25, 2024 at the Out of Africa gallery near Barcelona, Spain. This is her fourth show at Out of Africa; on Instagram, the gallery says Pendergast’s work “transcends mere aesthetic exploration; it becomes a bridge connecting cultures.”

“Her empathetic approach is palpable, evident in the trust and comfort her subjects exude, having willingly posed for her. Her paintings, infused with a spirituality that transcends the mundane, celebrate the everyday hero,” continues the gallery’s post.

Pendergast also will have a solo show at One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, in Nairobi, in April.
Pendergast began actively volunteering in her community while in her early 30s. Her early efforts included mentoring high-risk youth at the Art Access Gallery in Salt Lake City. There, she taught groups of children and also spent time as a one-on-one mentor. She donated her artwork to Art Access fundraisers as well as to fundraisers that supported animal rescue and spay and neuter clinics in Washington state. She taught classes to groups of children who were at risk and worked one-on-one mentoring individual children. In Nairobi, Pendergast has provided financial support and volunteered with the nonprofit Alfajiri Street Kids Art Project, where she mentors boys living on the streets. Presently, Pendergast is launching an effort to use her art to work with researchers and support MEP (Mara Elephant Project) in the Masai Mara Park Lemek Conservancy.

CCAD set Olivia Pendergast’s career on its path

“It was a tough school. This idea that art school was going to be ‘easy’ was quickly seen through, as it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done,” says Pendergast. She credits the late CCAD Illustration Professor Mark Haselrig as particularly instrumental in helping her prepare for the professional world, particularly when it came to learning 3D illustration. It was these skills, as well as her willingness to work long hours and revise projects until she was satisfied, that helped her work in the production industry. There, she worked on new and creative solutions to solve special effects challenges, such as figuring out how to design a bodysuit—one with the appearance of a circuit board—for the character Seven of Nine in the show Star Trek: Voyager.

“Also, working in the film industry was not unlike pulling ‘all-nighters’ in the dorm spray booth trying to meet a deadline,” she notes.

Her advice to CCAD students and young alumni

“Do what makes your heart sing. It's a long journey to be doing something for money,” says Pendergast. She recalls that when she graduated, she was determined to not be a “starving artist.” And while working in special effects was fun and provided an income, “my heart wanted to paint,” she says. “ … I quit my day job. I cut up my credit cards. I drove a beat up $500 Isuzu Trooper and never looked back.”

Find Pendergast on her website and on Instagram. Watch Pendergast at work and discussing making human connections in her artmaking on Venmo.