Prepare To Challenge and Be Challenged

Oxbow academics are integrated with the studio art practice to engage students in a new and inspiring way. Each course offers students multiple entry points that allow both the most academically focused students and those still identifying the area of their interest to engage with the material. Our courses are fully accredited and college preparatory. Oxbow students have described the courses as being more relevant learning experiences than they have ever encountered anywhere else in their lives.

We believe that disciplines should not be siloed and that authentic learning occurs when connections are made between subjects. Therefore, our curriculum reflects integration across disciplines. Three core courses are taught in a block format and guide students through a series of carefully conceived assignments that build skills and provide integrated instruction across academic disciplines and the visual arts. Throughout each course, the art-making process is informed by intellectual inquiry, in-depth research, synthesis of ideas, critical and creative writing, and self-reflection.

Oxbow students receive 2 semester credits in Honors Studio Art and 1 semester credit each in Honors English, Honors U.S. History, Honors Environmental Science, and Physical Education. Students develop critical thinking, writing and research skills, and a personal voice in each of the core courses. Students also have an opportunity to take a range of elective courses. Honors Math (of various levels) and World Language tutoring is offered, but not required.

At Oxbow, we are fully committed to working with students’ home schools to best support their time with us, and their return home. The first step is for families to meet with their home school to go over our Curriculum Guide. The Oxbow Admissions Office, Deans, and Faculty are available to answer questions and provide additional information as needed.

Core Course: Humanities/Printmaking

Honors Humanities draws from the disciplines of English literature, creative writing, and U.S. history, centering on the genre of “creative nonfiction.” While some might feel more inclined to call this genre “memoir,” the term “creative nonfiction” encompasses a wider range of writing modalities through which one can express a lived experience or “truth.” Whatever we decide to call it, the course samples texts from the following authors: Lynda Barry, Terrance Hayes, Thomas King, Tracy K. Smith, Mary Karr, James Baldwin, Julie Otsuka, Ann Lamott, and Cheryl Strayed. Using these texts, we will ask ourselves: What are my stories? How can I tell them? How can personal narrative address matters of universal import? By the end of this course, you will emerge with a writing portfolio comprising 3-5 poetic and prosaic pieces, as well as an edition of prints that draws from the thematic material of your written work.

Printmaking is a creative method that involves transferring images from one surface, known as a matrix, to another, typically paper or fabric. Traditional techniques encompass woodcut, etching, engraving, and lithography. However, modern artists have broadened these techniques to include screen printing and plant-based methods. We aim to delve into some traditional printmaking methods, but our main focus will be on experimental, nature-based, and alternative printmaking techniques. Your role is to remain receptive and enthusiastic about experimentation and playful creation. We will present information on mostly contemporary artist practice and will investigate writers such as Flannery O’Connor who made lino prints based on her writing, to compare and contrast.

I think a lot of making art is listening to yourself.

— Kiki Smith

Core Course: Environmental Science/Sculpture

Who is responsible for climate change? In what ways can artists respond to the climate crisis and positively engage in the conversation? In this course, students explore a range of topics, including environmental ethics, ecological citizenship, climate activism, and food systems. This interdisciplinary course situates students at the crossroads of environmental literacy and informed artmaking. Assignments prompt students to experiment with form, function, space, place, site, permanence, and ephemerality. Students expand their notions of sculpture and gain knowledge of materials while developing their own line of sculptural inquiry born from individualized research. Class sessions also include working in the Oxbow gardens, thereby instilling a personal ethic in relation to the land. Shared content within the disciplines of science and art includes how chemical and industrial processes have shaped modern life, and how basic fabrication materials intersect with economic, political, social, and environmental systems. Core texts include: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Great Tide Rising by Kathleen Dean Moore, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, and assorted essays by Donella Meadows, Cesar Chavez, Paul Kingsnorth, Robert Macfarlane, Nina Nakajima, Dean Spade, and Jacques Ellul. Students study artworks by contemporary sculptors and designers, including Bruce Conner, Annette Messager, Wangechi Mutu, Doris Salcedo, Félix González-Torres, Giuseppe Penone, Lucy Orta, Guo Pei, and Alexander McQueen.

One thing I’ve learned in the woods is that there is no such thing as random. Everything is steeped in meaning, colored by relationships, one thing with another.

— Robin Wall Kimmerer

Core Course: Painting + Drawing/New Media

This interdisciplinary studio course takes place within the shared spaces of traditional direct techniques and those involving digital tools. Students will engage with the concepts of material exploration, authenticity, and originality and explore the relationships between digital/virtual expressions of reality and that of the sensory and physical. Coursework and assignments are inquiry-based and will invite students to examine and develop their relationship towards their skills — emphasizing play, data collection, and research as foundational to a generative creative practice. Students will be guided through experimenting with traditional fine arts drafting and painting materials such as charcoal, graphite, pastel, ink, and acrylic paint, as well as access to DSLR cameras, a computer lab with Adobe CC software, scanners, and printers, and more. Using analog and digital methods, students will also participate in critical discussion, surveying written and visual works to synthesize, organize, and propagate their ideas.

There has never been a work of art created which didn’t somehow reflect its own time.

— Hayao Miyazaki


Regardless of the level of math students are currently enrolled in, math is optional at Oxbow. To meet the individualized needs of each student, Oxbow math tutors oversee an adaptive online math curriculum designed by McGraw Hill, ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces). Through initial assessment, this program identifies a student’s math strengths and gaps and builds a course of instruction based on that information, working towards mastery and competency: “ALEKS intelligence uses machine learning based on Knowledge Space Theory to efficiently develop and maintain a detailed map of each student's knowledge. ALEKS knows, at each moment, with respect to each individual topic in the course, whether the individual student has mastered that topic and if they are ready to learn it now. ALEKS facilitates super-effective learning by offering the student a selection of the topics that they are currently ready to learn...the student's confidence and learning momentum build as they are challenged by, work on, and then master each new topic.” Using a “flipped classroom” approach, students report to math class at designated times during the week and receive 1:1 tutorial support as needed during these sessions. Due to the flexible nature of the ALEKS program, our tutor can edit course content for each student to ensure specific concepts are covered for a more seamless transition back to the sending school math program. During the enrollment process, families are encouraged to work directly with the math department chair at their sending school to gather detailed information about core skills and concepts that need to be covered while the student is at Oxbow. To learn more about the subjects and curriculum offered through ALEKS, please visit their website or follow the link above.


For an additional fee, world language tutoring in French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, German, and Latin are available for those students who require it. This fee is waived for students from our Member School students who are taking a language in level 2 or above. The purpose of language tutoring is to keep students engaged in their conversational abilities. Students will meet with a tutor weekly, individually or in small groups. Language instruction is not guaranteed and must be requested in advance.

Final Project

At the conclusion of the semester, the capstone Final Project is a chance for students to focus on a subject in great depth with support from faculty mentors. The primary goal of this project is to foster ongoing dialogue between inquiry, research, writing, and art-making. The learning path integrates multiple disciplines as a means to inform one’s artistic process. Students take on the model of the artist pursuing a line of work in their own studio. Many students cite this project as the highlight of their Oxbow experience, for it allows them to take full ownership over their work by engaging in a dynamic process of creative experimentation, discovery, and output.

At Oxbow, I got to try inquiry-based learning for the first time. This allowed me to control the amount of rigor and the depth of research in my topic, as well as picking a topic that I found most interesting. From going through this new process of learning, I feel excited to go back to the rigor of my sending school to apply the inquiry-based perspective to my classes.

— Meave, OS33

Physical Education

Each week all students take a break from the work at hand to get some exercise. Students choose from a range of activities led by faculty and staff. Past activities have included biking, yoga, hiking, gardening, kayaking, and team sports that offer everyone the opportunity to stay fit and get outdoors.