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Inside Oxbow

Field Trips, Walden Projects, and Next Steps!


OS39 is already deep into their semester, and the show continues! We are really enjoying this group and their vivacious nature. They're nearly through the first month rotation in the art studios and are in the midst of wonderful projects in Humanities classes. This coming Monday, we'll welcome their first Visiting Artist (and alumna!) Rebecca Manson for a ten day residency and artist lecture, and then it's truly full steam ahead into Project X. Time marches on!

Many thanks to Colby C.and Colleen R. for this week's blog post write up:

This past Tuesday, we went to San Francisco as a school to see artwork at the SFMOMA. We viewed the exhibition “The Fifth Season,” a collection of famous works by René Magritte, as well as many other noteworthy exhibitions. Several groups split off to go to other local museums such as the Jewish museum, The Asian Art Museum and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. On the bus ride back, we got the pleasant surprise of being able to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. We returned to Oxbow equally inspired by the art as well as the San Francisco cityscape.

A long-cherished tradition at Oxbow is The Walden Experiment, based off of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. For two years, Thoreau secluded himself in the wilderness to better understand nature. For one week, we would replicate a mini Walden-esque journey of our own. This experiment is deeply inspired by performance artists such as Marina Abramovic and other revolutionaries such as John Francis and Janine Antoni. Stretching our boundaries, sixteen of us began our experiments from Monday, September 10th, all the way until September 16th. The rest of us will be starting our projects soon. Below are two first hand experiences:


For my Walden Experiment, I wanted to see if it would be possible to remove my personality completely. I spent five days without talking about myself, stating any opinions, touching anyone or speaking to anyone. Along with that I only wore one outfit, put a paper bag with eye holes on my head, and sat still for one hour each day. This experiment resulted in me being restricted from making any connections with my classmates and being able to see and hear properly because of the bag. Wearing a bag and being silent impacted the Oxbow community as equally as it did myself. Initially, the hardest thing for the community to adjust to was the bag. The most common reactions were asking how I was doing (then apologizing), admitting that it was hard to think of an impersonal question, and commenting on how sad I looked. Unable to bear it, one of my friends decided to draw a smiley face under the eye holes. By day four some people had forgotten what I had looked like. One night as I rounded a dark corner, a teacher let out a small scream before releasing a sigh, “Oh, it’s just you.” However, it also allowed me to truly enjoy moments of silence and meditation. From this experiment I became much more peaceful, intentional, and deliberate.


For my experiment, I wanted to see if I could increase my connection to nature and make my conversations with others more meaningful. I implemented morning and evening in-nature journaling practices to increase my mindfulness and strength and experimented with silence and speaking. I also paid attention to what was meaningful to speak about and how I experienced connection with those around me. I went in conceptualizing time in nature as calm and my conversations as chaotic, but ended up realizing that I can take joy and calm out of both, and both lead to connection.

A School Like No Other