NMU student art exhibit exposes effects of bullying

Bullying can happen anywhere at any time and to anyone. It can consist of hitting, name calling, teasing, taunting, and even spreading rumors. Sixty percent of middle school students say that they’ve been bullied, and the effects can last a lifetime.

Northern Michigan University’s Sticks and Stones anti-bullying campaign is in full swing because the university believes words do hurt. Student artwork detailing the subject can be seen on display at the Student Art Gallery.

“Being in a college environment, you don’t exactly think of bullying right away,” NMU Student Art Gallery director Breanne Kanak said. “It’s more of a veiled threat. It’s something that people don’t talk about, so bringing it out into the open by using art, you’re not being accusatory. You’re just making people aware that it is an issue and that people are still struggling with it.”

Artists say being able to express sentiments through art is therapeutic. They feel that the effects of bullying can go unrecognized for years, including how it changes one’s self-perception.

“A lot of the inner turmoil and the struggling that we all sort of deal with, a lot of it comes from younger-age bullying and stuff like that, so a lot of my pieces, it’s a really big reflection on my different struggles that I had, so a lot of it was because of bullying, so it really fit into the exhibit that’s going to be going on,” NMU senior art major Rachel Clauson said. “The artwork that I created was sort of a stab at our society and our expectation of perfection, and how different media and magazines and models, that’s all photoshopped and we’re all made to believe that that’s all real. And that results in a lot of body issues, especially in young women. That’s something that I struggled with personally, so my artwork sort of brings up those realities and questions this expectation that we all try and strive so hard for.”

The Student Art Museum is located inside the University Center. An artists’ reception will be held on March 14th. The meet-and-greet is free and open to the public.