The mission of the You Will Rise Project is to provide a multimedia showcase for people of all ages who have been bullied to share their stories through the arts. Submissions can include visual art (paintings, drawings, sculptures, videos, etc.) as well as poetry, song lyrics, short stories, or other creative expressions that best capture their personal experiences. The You Will Rise Project asks only that contributors be truthful and real. No corrections or alterations will be made to the works that are posted on the site.
By giving visitors the opportunity to view these creative works, we hope to educate, instill pride, generate positive feedback, and provide online resources - all for the purposes of supporting, inspiring creative productivity, fostering respect for cultural and sexual diversity, and improving the quality of life for those who have been or are currently being bullied.
The You Will Rise Project was started by Linda Regula and Paul Richmond, two artists who were bullied as kids and who now use their visual voices to speak out about this horrific issue.
"Being poor, shy, skinny, and motherless, I was bullied unmercifully as a child. When I was in the fourth grade, our teacher asked students to listen to a story about a phoenix, then to draw a picture of the mythical fire bird rising from ashes. From the narrator’s first sentence, I was captivated by the fascinating story and my imagination easily enabled that magnificent bird to escape the plastic covering of the radio; to swoop and fly through my thoughts as vividly as if that wondrous creature were actually riding the breezes drifting through the open window.
I stared down at the large square of paper and concentrated hard on its blank surface. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, the magnificent miniature of a Phoenix settled down onto the snowy whiteness of the paper. Picking up a pencil, I carefully traced around the outline that my imagination placed on the surface. I couldn't keep from chuckling as I shooed the freed bird to the top of my desk to wait for me to finish its portrait.
Gathering up several crayons marked with names that I loved, I colored its feathers emerald green, ruby red, violet, and cobalt blue. At last, satisfied that my Phoenix appeared to live within the drawing, I created a radiant yellow sun whose golden rays seemed to tease the bird into flight. I then drew glowing embers scattered beneath its feet, and colored black and brown residue clinging to its long legs to indicate that the great bird was rising from sooty ashes.
For the first time in my young life, as I stared down at the drawing, I felt that I’d accomplished a rare thing. I'd listened to a verbal description of an amazing bird rising from fire, and recreated with paper and crayons an image that spoke just as eloquently as had the narrator’s words.
My drawing was chosen as the best, and was displayed in the teacher's 'Honor Place.' A few minutes later, the teacher left the classroom, and the boy who constantly taunted me, grabbed it down, tore it into pieces, then threw it into the air like confetti. Memory of that bully destroying my phoenix drawing still remains as if that magnificent fire bird, its feet coated with hot ashes, had actually walked across my brain.
I don't remember drawing again until adulthood, so I know how deeply being bullied, especially when one's home life is also horrendous, can affect a child."
Linda Regula and Paul Richmond, co-founders of the You Will Rise Project, go way back -- 1984 to be precise. It was just before Paul's fourth birthday and his parents had asked Linda, a local artist whom they had read about in the newspaper, if she would take him on as a student because of his insatiable desire to draw. She was reluctant due to his age, but agreed to a trial lesson. An instant bond was formed - one that has lasted twenty seven years! Not only did Linda teach Paul how to paint, she also taught him how to use his art to express what he was feeling and experiencing, just as she did in her own work.
Besides being artists and best friends, Linda and Paul also have something else in common. They were both bullied as kids. Linda attributes her experience of being bullied to the fact that she was "poor, skinny, motherless, and very shy." Paul was bullied because he is gay. They both believe that these hardships served as powerful motivation to make choices that ultimately enriched their lives -- and their art.
LINDA REGULA, Co-FounderA visual artist for 31 years, Regula utilizes imagination and past experiences to create powerful paintings and write fictionalized stories (ten books in print) that, in many instances, chronicle her life story. Working mainly in oils, she also creates a powerful, disturbing, and beautiful series of paintings to address contemporary issues adversely affecting women and children. Regula shares an art studio with her husband in downtown Zanesville, Ohio, where she teaches art, mentors children and, as an active community volunteer, works to better her adopted hometown.
Visit Linda's Facebook page to see more of her artwork.
PAUL RICHMOND, Co-FounderPaul Richmond is a fine artist and illustrator. After coming out of the closet in 2002, painting became a vehicle for exploring and understanding his own journey and developing a dialogue with other members of the LGBT community. He has done extensive volunteer work including organizing art classes and exhibitions for Kaleidoscope Youth Center, an organization serving LGBT teens in Columbus, Ohio. He is also the associate art director for Dreamspinner Press.
Visit Paul's website to see more of his artwork.
Aaron Anderson is a designer working in the field with a BFA in Advertising and Graphic Design. Looking for the opportunity to share his well-rounded experiences, he joined in on this cause so he can help provide what he never had.
“Kids need that creative outlet and assurance that someone gives a damn about them, without judgment.”
E-mail Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANGELA WILSON, Operations ManagerAngela Wilson has worked in education for over ten years as a teacher, a content editor, an instructional designer, and a solutions developer, with her M.S. in Math Education. In addition to education, art has been her life-long passion. Angela joined the YWR team to encourage the use of art as a means of expression.
MELISSA FORMAN, Special ProjectsMelissa has been drawing and painting commissioned portraits since she was 14. She attended the Columbus College of Art and Design and graduated with a BFA in 2002. She now lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio. She spends her time creating a richly visual world filled with characters from an opulent, mysterious, and often eerie imagination. Her personal work has been shown in galleries around the world, from New York City to Seattle to Los Angeles to Berlin, Germany to Bristol, England.
Visit Melissa's website to see more of her work.