Paul Richmond faced his fair share of bullying in school for being gay, and he wouldn’t have gotten through it without the support of his then-mentor Linda Regula. Looking back, Richmond and Regula realized that their shared experiences being bullied enriched their art and, conversely, art gave them both an expressive safe space for their feelings.
That’s why the two have come together to launch the You Will Rise Project, an anti-bullying art collective based on the internet:
Through the project blog, the two artists share submitted works – both written and visual art pieces – by people who are struggling with bullying right now, at this moment, and therefore empower them to rise above it. Regula’s own contribution is a painting of the Phoenix, linking her own experiences back to the classic story of the bird that rises from its own ashes:
The two artists are hoping that the You Will Rise Project will inspire young people and empower them as they struggle with bullying and other negative social experiences. Richmond and Regula think that the experience of, and feelings associated with, being bullied should be expressed and shared – and that’s inspirational.
This is an interesting project relative to the It Gets Better project — instead of promising a brighter future or even actual change within their schools, You Will Rise provides a way for kids to learn ways to live through it and make it to the other side.
Once you’ve checked out the digital gallery, you can help the project win a Pepsi Refresh Grant, or even submit something yourself. The artists want the project to grow to include thousands of submissions, and use it to create dialogue and raise awareness on the topic of bullying and its effects.
And in the meantime, I’m going to go read Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”