Every year, the Columbus College of Art & Design College PreView program invites an artist to mentor a group of high school students and teach them the fundamentals of art and design. This year, the mentor is none other than Jason Hackenwerth, a world-renown artist from New York who is best known for his experiential balloon art. On July 5, Hackenwerth’s high school mentees will share their own balloon creations at Gallery Hop.

The 44 high school students have come from all over the country to be “living, eating, [and] breathing life as an art and design college student here at Columbus College of Art & Design,” said Catherine “Cat” Sheridan, Director of Continuing & Professional Studies. “These students are the next generation of movers and shakers contributing great things to our visual culture, just you wait and see.”

Sheridan, who has worked at CCAD for eight years, programs and directs a myriad of youth programs, including College PreView. “Truly, the best part of the program is seeing the College PreView students grow,” she said. “Every year, I promise the students and parents at orientation that if the student meets me half way, I will return them as a different person, and I mean that in the best way possible. They will be so motivated, so inspired, so excited to be an artist and/or designer that high school might just be ruined for them, because they’ve finally got a taste of how great college is going to be.”

The program is the first opportunity the majority of the students have to experience mostly creative classes, Sheridan said. “It is a mind-bendingly, amazingly liberating experience as they realize what it’s like to inspire as much as they are being inspired by their fellow students,” she said. “The emotional growth and artistic growth are both palpable and invigorating for all lucky enough to witness it, and I’m really glad to count myself in that group.”

The “larger than life” projects that are the focus of the program aim to teach students scale, scope, collaboration, timing, work ethic, and community engagement in a fast paced environment. The applied learning method is supported by CCAD students that serve as mentors and team leaders while the high schoolers are in College PreView. “Here at CCAD, we believe these core components are important for any artist and designer to understand and start diving into as early as possible so they can go forward after college and compete particularly well in the marketplace,” Sheridan said.

From June 22 through July 12, the high school students will learn the basics of art and create interactive balloon sculptures with Hackenwerth to showcase at Gallery Hop. The sculptures, which Hackenwerth calls “Megamites,” look like blown-up versions of the type of organisms that you would see while looking through a microscope. The colorful creatures are worn like costumes and brought to life to interact with bystanders and other Megamites.

The Megamites will be performing in front of Bollinger Tower from 5-9pm during Gallery Hop on July 5.

For more information about CCAD's College PreView program, click here. For more information about Jason Hackenwerth, click here.

Photos courtesy of Jason Hackenwerth's Facebook page and website.


– Michelle Gibson