For over twenty years, Ox-Bow, School of Art and Artists’ Residency has provided students from Grand Valley State University with the opportunity to participate in its prestigious Fellowship Program. Found in 1910 and operating for more than a hundred years, Ox-Bow is an internationally known and accredited, nonprofit organization that is affiliated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Every year, Ox-Bow receives applications from thirteen competitive art departments from around the nation and accepts only a total of twelve fellowship students into their program.
During the Summer, the 3-month fellowship program houses students on campus, located in Saugatuck, Michigan. The program offers students board and lodging, as well as a diverse variety of courses for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. On campus, students are fully immersed in a transformative experience where they are encouraged to network and connect with other passionate artists. Students are able to improve and mature creative processes and studio practices by being involved on campus as students, resident artists, and as staff members.
This past year, Ox-Bow had awarded two of GVSU’s students: Lin Foust and Castina Bombardo. Lin was awarded with the thirteen-week fellowship, while Castina received a two-week scholarship. Both Lin and Castina described their experience at Ox-Bow as “magical”. As a student, Lin said that life at Ox-Bow, “provided me with the chance to lead way into exploring the different ways in which I could become an artist”. Castina added that the natural environment, located in the woods and far from anything else, was “relaxing, but in a way that also moves you out of your comfort zone” and into a “different world”.
Students of Ox-Bow, School of Art and Artists’ Residency are taught by a small not-for-profit staff with instructors that come from all over the world and are accompanied by an array of perspectives. In the past, Ox-Bow has welcomed GVSU Professors Brett Colley, Norwood Viviano, and Renee Zettle-Sterling to teach within their program. Ox-Bow’s diverse courses include special topics classes that cover both traditional and non-traditional, experimental art. Students work within a variety of different mediums and mixed media, and are not expected to focus on a single discipline. Each course lasts between one or two weeks and are open to all skill levels.
At Ox-Bow, Castina attended classes about garment making with a focus on performance wear, nightlife, and camp fashion. The class was instructed by New York based, fashion designer Brad Callahan, known for his brand BCALLA and his work with nightlife icons and pop celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Lizzo. Castina was also enrolled in classes such as Data Analytics, which educated students about spatial mapping software and “breaking down big data through a creative lens”. Also, Abrupt Climate Change, which was taught by Mika Tosca, an instructor who had worked for NASA in the past and believes that “artists are the ones who are going to create change within the world”.
Lin and Castina talked highly of their time at Ox-Bow: the life-long friendships that were made, the newfound knowledge of what it means to be an artist, and all of the unforgettable memories. Ox-Bow begins accepting applications for their annual fellowship program during the month of February. By attending Ox-Bow, students are exposed to an in-depth experience of the art world and are provided with programs to explore their own creations and abilities, and learn new approaches to thinking and communicating about art.