Dear Friends of Oxbow,
Even though it is early February, Spring is already in the air in Northern California! The birds are trilling early in the morning, the sun beams down on the lush blanket of grass that overlooks the Napa River, and the days are growing promisingly longer. The atmosphere can be best described as one that invites “celebration,” a welcome mood on campus and the theme of this edition of OxTales. Let’s take a few moments to celebrate The Oxbow School together:
Celebrate a new cohort. We are happy to announce a successful conclusion to the Fall 2021 semester. You can find images of the students’ final projects here. In the Fall, we hosted two award winning students who have been recognized by the Napa Valley Arts Council. You can see their work and read about the awards here, Nellie and Leah. After saying an emotional farewell to the 45th semester students, we turned our attention to usher in a newly arrived Spring cohort.
This semester, we are hosting a wide range of students coming to us from across the country. The following is a list of where our Spring students call “home”:
CALIFORNIA Berkeley, Campbell, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, La Jolla, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Oakland, Rancho Cucamonga, San Anselmo, San Francisco, San Marcos, Sebastopol, Sherman Oaks
CONNECTICUT New Canaan
GEORGIA Atlanta, Smyrna
MASSACHUSETTS Concord, Newton
MARYLAND Baltimore, Pikesville
NORTH CAROLINA Pisgah Forest
NEW JERSEY Montclair
NEW MEXICO Albuquerque
NEW YORK Bronx, Larchmont, New York City
WASHINGTON Mercer Island
Celebrate Oxbow’s new curriculum. In keeping with our position as a thought leader in progressive arts education, we launched a newly designed curriculum that fully integrates intellectual inquiry with creative arts practice. We believe that disciplines should not be siloed, for authentic learning occurs when ideas and concepts are shared across disciplines. Over the course of the semester students rotate through each studio, participating in interdisciplinary projects that link New Media + Humanities; Printmaking + Environmental Science; and Psychology + Sculpture + Painting. A description of those courses can be found in our new curriculum guide. Our Spring semester students are currently immersed in their first core project. We also launched a new elective program to invite students to explore a range of topics. They can select two electives from the following offerings: Graphic Illustration, Portraits in Oil, Biking through Napa Valley, Experimental Printmaking, Gardening, Psychology and Adolescent Development, Forest Bathing, Hiking and Meditation, and Food Justice and Asian American History.
Celebrate the artist-in-residence program. After taking a brief hiatus for pandemic reasons, we are proud to announce that our visiting artist-in-residence program is back! Rhombie Sandoval (Oxbow alumnx, OS20) will join us this Spring to collaborate with students on a portraiture project. Rhombie’s love for photography and storytelling began when she was a student at Oxbow. To learn more about her background and practice, please visit her website here and her Anywhere Boulevard project here.
Celebrate experiential excursions. The Bay Area landscape has a lot to offer, whether that is a visit to the SFMOMA to explore the language of objects and American abstraction or an overnight camping expedition to Point Reyes National Seashore or a mindful walk through the local redwood forest at Bothe Napa Valley State Park. Oxbow students have many opportunities to explore both cityscapes and naturescapes, making their residence in Northern California a truly memorable one.
Celebrate community-wide programming. Students participate in weekly activities led by the Residential Life team; these activities are meant to provide stimulating co-programming experiences for students and to deepen social relationships across the Oxbow community. For example, this weekend students had an opportunity to celebrate the Lunar New Year with Teaching Chef, Amy Zhang, wherein students made handmade potstickers and held an evening “RiverFest” at a faculty house on campus.
Celebrate diversity. In keeping with our anti-racist self-study and goals, we were represented at the 2021 NAIS People of Color Conference, have established a weekly POC affinity group for students and faculty, are actively working to build a more diverse library and curriculum materials in each studio, and are committed to raising scholarship funds for students in need. In honor of Black History Month, all proceeds donated this month will be dedicated to the Stephen Thomas Scholarship Fund. Stephen Thomas is the Founding Head and Director of The Oxbow School and, upon his retirement, the School created a named scholarship for students of color. You can donate towards this fund online here.
Celebrate Oxbow alumni. Regardless of when students attend Oxbow, there is a thread of transformation and community that connects their shared experiences. We would love to feature Oxbow alumni on our website and in our newsletters as a continuation of our #oxbowjourney project. Alumni, update us and let us know what you're up to!
We are proud to say that many of our alumni have returned to Oxbow as staff, faculty, and board members. We recently received this message from Ella Snyder, from our Spring 2016 class and it made our year!
After my time at Oxbow, I made the decision to pursue an education in photography at Parsons School of Design in New York City. There, I began working full time as a model. Now signed with agencies in the US, UK and France, I have had the opportunity to work with designers and artists I have always admired: Matthew Williams at Givenchy, Collier Schorr and Drew Vickers, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. In 2020, I received the DAZED100 grant to produce and publish my first photo book, documenting the trans community in the US, which has brought me to Los Angeles, where I currently reside.
Oxbow gave me an escape from my home life, and my lackluster, underfunded, public high school experience. The school I came to Oxbow from had such limited resources, and to put it quite simply, I didn’t feel as though I was getting the push I needed in order to grow. Oxbow became that push. It was this glorious opportunity to leave home for the first time, and study my true passions in a setting where I felt seen, heard, and supported. I got to work in classrooms half, or a third of the size that I was used to, allowing me to develop strong personal and professional relationships with both my peers, and mentors. Oxbow also allowed me the freedom to create across all media, and introduced me to founding my work in both research and thought; a lifelong skill that has influenced my creative process for the past 4 years and all the years to come. I credit Oxbow for guiding my growth into the person I was meant to be, and have always wanted to be. Somewhere within the combination of newfound freedom, guided and open conversations on intellectualism and transcendentalism, and the absolute accessibility to make whatever one’s mind can imagine, I found a stronger sense of self than I could have dreamed for.