Make Your Mark

Meet Our Mentors


Max has been a mentor at Columbus Metropolitan Main Library’s YouMedia space since 2013. His main skills are in audio engineering and audio production, so he has been creating programming that utilizes musical instruments and music recording software for the SURGE network. He is also actively learning game development software and Photoshop.   Max ran a professional recording studio for five years and instructed audio engineering and Pro Tools at the Jazz Academy at the Lincoln Theatre for two and a half years. To youth interested in Surge programming he says: “I would have been SO THANKFUL if the SURGE network and services were available to me when I was a teen. The skill sets you can develop from participating in SURGE can help you succeed in whatever career path you choose. Don't take it for granted!”


Jean is a mentor at the Wexner Center for the Arts where she is particularly interested in community and teen-driven local contemporary art projects that involve a variety of partners all coming together. At the Wex she is presently working on a billboard project due to be unveiled in April 2015 in collaboration with Godman Guild and the Boys and Girls Club of Columbus’ RISE teen drop-in program in Weinland Park. Jean has studied and honed her skills over the past 35 years while traveling all over the planet, including Finland, Lithuania, Hawai’i and the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin. She has a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an MFA from the University of Hawai’i and has worked on countless contemporary art projects with youth in a multitude of mediums and venues. She prefers to collaborate with youth because of their unfiltered perceptions, fearlessness, humor and curiosity. In her thinking, youth learn tools of self-determination through a variety of creative practices and she loves to help facilitate this when she can. Jean’s advice to youth: “Ask questions: it demonstrates that you are engaged. There is no such thing as a dumb question.”


Dave is a mentor at COSI’s Tech Studio with a specialty in audio and video production along with 3D design and printing. He is a professional musician (songwriter/recording artist/film composer) and has served as a professional audio engineer. He currently writes, records, and performs with two musical projects: Dave Buker & the Historians and The Depths. He has been a recording artist for 15 years and "cut his teeth" as an audio engineer throughout that time. Of this time, he says that “Observation proved an important resource, second only to the befriending of some great audio engineers, from whom I learned a lot.”

Dave has a bachelor's degree in Music Education (classical guitar emphasis) from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University. There, he refined his skills as a composer, music theorist, instrumentalist, and vocalist. Music school was an amazing, yet stressful experience. About school he says that “however cliché, it really was when I began to ‘find myself’ and develop bonds with people based on a shared passion.” His advice to youth just starting out: “Keep learning and exploring, always. If you continue to be creative, there will always be more to learn. And, perhaps more importantly, don't be afraid to fail. That's how we learn best.”


Brandi is a mentor at Columbus Metropolitan Main Library’s YouMedia. Her professional skills as an artist include digital and print photography, graphic (digital and handcrafted) design, and digital painting. For fun she sketches, paints, and creates different types of textile art and design with yarn and fabrics. Brandi graduated from Columbus State Community College with an associate’s degree in digital design and certificates in both digital publishing and digital photography. She gives this advice to youth: “Projects are a lot easier if you break it down to the basics” and “Don't give up after your first attempt because making something kind of crappy is the first step toward making something great.”


Mackenzie is a mentor at the Columbus Museum of Art. Her skill is music-making of all kinds, including playing a variety of instruments, songwriting, arranging, and audio engineering. Mackenzie is currently working on a BA in Music Education at Wittenberg University. Her other interests and hobbies include music listening, collaging, blogging, and singing both original and classical music. Her advice to teens: “Creativity will take you far in life. Take time to explore and experiment with your own creative genius!”


Beats, Love and Happiness is a community workshop built as an introduction to the Hip-Hop element of “Beat-Boxing” in partnership with drumming and a general music jam session. The hopes of the workshop are to develop self-confidence and creativity with the highest hopes of producing positive entertainment from the entrepreneurial spirit.  B.B.X., a graduate of South High School in Columbus, is a 19 year old beat box artist, drummer and DJ who has gone forward to claim victories in the 2014 Ohio Beat Box Battle and 2014 Midwest Beat-Box battle and has performed from coast to coast. As well as being a competing beat-boxer he has given demonstrations on beat-boxing at Tiffin University, Upper Arlington's Hastings Middle School, and TRANSIT ARTS programs around Columbus. He has been a featured artist with TRANSIT ARTS at numerous venues including Miami University, The United Way Celebration of Excellence, TEDx Columbus, The King Arts Complex, The Columbus Museum of Art, and many more.


BHB (Brother’s helping Bruthas) uses hip-hop as a positive vehicle to deter young people away from negative activities in the streets. He has been DJing since the age of 8 and later began DJing for various parties and high school functions. When he relocated to the east side of Columbus, and became more involved with the community, BHB founded The Hip-Hop Expo, a major annual event currently held at the Columbus Convention Center and now in it’s 22 nd year. Over sixteen years ago, BHB began DJ and dance workshops with CAPACITY (CAPA’s Youth Arts Program), and Directions for Youth, and in 2006 he became a founding Master Artist with TRANSIT ARTS. He also conducts workshops and performances with a wide variety of schools and community centers. BHB also founded the Hip-Hop Origins and travels to various Columbus and suburban libraries to teach youth about the roots of Hip Hop. He has performed with countless internationally acclaimed and Columbus-based artists in venues including major concert halls, museums, festivals, colleges and universities, rec centers, block parties, and anywhere that he can reach young people through his artistry.


Duarte, was born in Atlantic City, NJ and is a recent graduate of Ohio Dominican University. His art works and murals can be seen throughout central Ohio bringing comfort and inspiration to countless viewers. Duarte is a master artist with the TRANSIT ARTS Youth Arts Program and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education's Art in the House Program. For more than 20 years he has dedicated his talents to helping young people through various youth programs and schools. Duarte has the special gift of engaging people from all backgrounds and bringing them together through his creative spirit. Deeply influenced by Mr. William Steele, his fifth grade teacher, Duarte wrote a book in 2012, The Steele Influence, dedicated to Steele's profound impact on his life. “I found out right away that in order for me to establish a relationship with students it was very important to appeal to them with the culture of honor. I honored them as potential learners no matter where they appeared on the cultural, social, behavioral, or economic measurement curves. I discovered that labels meant to identify and distinguish could become barriers for each student as well as the teacher. So I have found it necessary to look past the label and get to know the person.” Richard Duarte Brown


Jai is a lyricist whose roots are in Newburgh, NY and Columbus, OH. The grandson of a teacher and a janitor, Jai combines intellectual hip hop with the emotional aspects of poetry, and inserts a freestyle ability parallel to few in the world. Focusing on lyricism, Jai’s work often pushes the boundaries of what people consider hip hop to a different level, often rhyming over beats with a heavy classical music influence. Inspired by things such as comic books, video games, 80’s cartoons, and current events, his music tends to stand out from his peers. An 8 time Ohio Hip Hop Expo emcee battle champion, 7 Time Ohio Hip Hop Award Nominee, 2 time Midwest Freestyle Clinic Champion, and numerous other freestyle competition winner, Jai combines both written work and freestyle into his live performances to give the audience a unique experience that never duplicates itself.


Katerina is an artist/administrator/educator with the TRANSIT ARTS youth arts program in Columbus. She attended Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center and Columbus State Community College and is a visual artist, poet, and singer. Katerina creates images that comment on the world around her through the wonder generated by patterns and colors. People radiate vibration and color, creating their own personal patterns that reflect their personalities. Katerina is inspired to show the unique beauty and cadence found in the patterns of those she paints.


Andre is one of the two new mentors at The Columbus Museum of Art’s Teen Open Studio and he is the first teen visitor turned mentor at the space. About a year ago he came into the space as an eager music producer wanting to use the space. He has been coming almost every week since. Now Andre has grown into a leader, fearless artist and mentor with interests in music production, creative collaborations and fashion design. Andre hopes to use his new position as a mentor to motivate and support the teens in any way he can.


Hannah is a mentor at the Columbus Museum of Art. As an accomplished musician, Hannah has studied classical music for over 15 years.  Her passions and talents include playing piano, singing, audio engineering, and video production.  In May 2016, Hannah will graduate with a Bachelor of Music in Music Technology from Capital University.  In addition to music, Hannah loves traveling, reading, Pinterest, and eating bacon.


Esther comes to the Columbus Metropolitan Library with extensive knowledge and experience in film and video production. She is passionate about creating a positive learning environment for teens and helping them tell their story. Her professional experience working on movie sets, as a digital media intern and in radio, tv and photography lend to Esther's many qualifications. She gives this advice to youth: "Creating and finishing a project is more than just about making art! Creating and finishing a project speaks to your discipline, your endurance, your positivity, your creativity, and much more. And those are traits you should be very proud of!"


Austin is the Teen Service mentor for the YouMedia space at the Columbus Metropolitan Driving Park Library branch. A graduate of Columbus College of Art & Design, he specializes in using digital programs such as Adobe Creative Suite and ToonBoom Harmony to create 2D animations, and digital illustrations. His passion to create has lead him to learn how to create 3D animations, video game development, films and graphic design. He really enjoys finding out about things that inspire him to create. Austin's words of wisdom would be "don't be afraid to learn about something that interests you, because nothing is too big or too hard for you to accomplish if you really want it"



Liz is a mentor at COSI’s Tech Studio. She is an artist and educator, originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She has taught several kids’ camps in the Greater Columbus Area on topics such as hand-building in clay and 3D modeling, in addition to her experiences working at COSI, Liz has a Bachelors of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Ceramics from The Ohio State University, and hopes to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in the future. She is a member of MINT Collective in Merion Village, and keeps an active studio practice at her home in the Old North. Much of her time in her studio involves reading and responding to art theory, and maintaining engagement with the academic side of art. Her passion for teaching stems from the artists who inspire her to create. As the late Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he [or she] grows up.”


Ryan has been a mentor in COSI’s Tech Studio since early 2015. He would prefer to describe himself as a “co-explorer,” learning new skills and problem solving along side guests as they investigate new ideas and processes. An avid tinkerer as far back as he can remember, Ryan has developed an intuition for how things work and is fascinated by mechanical and electrical systems, as well as programing. You can often find him working to improve the several Arduino-based projects he has created in Tech Studio or getting his hands dirty with the upkeep of the space’s 3D printers. In his spare time, Ryan loves collecting and building replica props and costumes from some of his favorite films and video games. He reads and collects comic books, is a Star Wars super fan, and enjoys retro video games. His advice: “Just get started.  There is a lot to be said for proper planning, but I have also gotten so bogged down with making sure I was ready to do something, that I never actually did it! So much learning comes from experience and problem solving in the moment. The skills and processes I use most, I remember because I had to use them in an interesting, and unplanned, way.”


Justin W. Dougherty is a film studies major at The Ohio State University.  Producing video content with an educational focus is on at the top of his career goals.  Serving as a WOSU mentor for Surge gives him multiple opportunities to grow towards that goal and to sharpen his interpersonal skills.  It’s all about connections, he says—connecting with people and what moves them! He believes in the power of the visual medium, especially film and filmmaking, to uncover truth and effect change.

What You'll Find At SURGE


Video & Film

Computers & Technology

Art Workshops

3D Printing