Summers at Ox-Bow

Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency is an immersive experience designed to foster the growth of artists throughout all stages of life and aid in their aspirations. Founded in 1910 in Saugatuck as a haven for creative minds, it offers a wide array of courses from functional to sculptural practices. Many GVSU alumni have been involved in the 3-month summer program this past year and are eager to share their experiences.

Morgan Hayden applied for the GVSU summer fellowship through our university’s application process. The fellowship involves living and working as staff at Ox-Bow in addition to taking classes and learning all of its inner workings and how it’s organized. “This is a great opportunity to be exposed to new artists and a wide range of voices, as you get weekly crits with visiting artists,” they explained. They took printed media classes using multiple experimental printmaking techniques. Teachers Breanne Trammell and Mary Banas are mentioned as major inspirations to them.

The program was one of great reward for Morgan. “Ox-Bow pushed me to expand my idea of art-making and exposed me to processes and creative practices which challenged my own notions in the best way possible. It unsettled some ideas I had about myself and work that needed to be shaken.” Morgan currently resides in Chicago, but says they are confident Ox-Bow has prepared them in ways they can’t even articulate yet. “I would recommend anyone interested to apply for the GVSU merit and financial scholarships, as well as work study opportunities that cover room and board.”


Virginia Pisto was awarded a student fellowship during the summer in which she audited the Animal Behavior class with Dianne Jedlika and worked on the campus doing housekeeping, while creating and exhibiting her work among a fantastic community of artists. She heard about Ox-Bow her junior year during the informational meeting and was immediately attracted to the program. She was accepted the summer before her thesis show and was able to spend time working in preparation for her BFA show. Currently, she still maintains contact with many of the artists she befriended that summer.

“It is important to always apply for scholarship opportunities because not nearly enough people do, and the chances to actually receive assistance are far greater than most people typically assume,” she emphasizes. “Scholarships are the best opportunity to experience the programming of a craft school while also not burdening oneself financially. Tuition alone can be expensive, not to mention travel plans and room and board.” Ox-Bow offers a wide variety of these opportunities for anyone applying.

Virginia owes much of her BFA show’s success to Ox-Bow, saying it gave her the time, resources, and rigorous dialogue needed to develop her plans and give her a newfound confidence when completing her final semester. “I feel like I truly found my voice throughout that summer, and I learned so much about how to structure my ways of making, as well as how to talk about my work and use language in more effective ways.”


Ox-Bow’s intense program offers a great chance to learn quickly about a specific discipline in an immersive community with a slightly shorter time commitment than semester-long programs. Time spent there is highly productive, and the fellowship program is acclaimed to be exceptionally rewarding for students currently enrolled or recently graduated and has a fully-funded residency program taking place in summer, fall, and winter. “It’s a unique chance to be engrossed within campus life and programming and serve as leaders alongside Ox-Bow staff,” Virginia explains. Grand Valley encourages students to seek out these highly endorsed opportunities that can be found locally and give artists an experience to hone in on their passions and let their work grow and flourish.

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