Art is the Catalyst for Change

As the nation’s only art-focused semester boarding program for high school students, Oxbow stands out as a unique educational model, situated in a beautiful setting that is conducive to fostering student growth. Oxbow is centered on a belief in the impact that direct contact with artists can have on young minds. These experiences wed intellect with passion and help many students identify the direction they will take in college and the focus of their adult lives.

Immersive studio art practice and direct contact with artists are potent ways to engage students at this moment in their lives. Whether or not they become artists, making art is a way to validate a sense of self, better understand their lived experience, and begin making sense of the complex world around them. Our goal was to create an interdisciplinary student experience that fuses the life of the mind with the skills of the hand, leading to habits of lifelong learning that cultivate and empower productive lives. To this end, making art is a chance to reinvent the adolescent self and step forward towards their adult lives.

Our goal is to create a trajectory—from self-awareness and self-acceptance, to self-respect and personal integrity, to individual and community responsibility—that leads to active and engaged citizenship and the sustainability of a robust and vibrant human culture.

— Stephen Thomas, Oxbow Founding Director

Oxbow transforms students' lives. Many of them are living away from home for the first time, without the immediate support of friends and family. For most of our students, the intensive four month semester is a crucible experience—an extended rite of passage. The work centers on each individual and their life; we help our students identify elements in the microcosms of their personal experience that relate to larger topics in the macrocosm of the world around them. By the end of the semester, upon completion of their Final Projects, students walk away fully empowered by the scope of what they have accomplished, realizing that, “I did this for myself and by myself, and now I can do it out in the world.”