Students Immersed in Art at Oxbow School
Students Immersed in Art at Oxbow School
Beyond the Gate Editors

Two Woodward seniors, Anna Freeman '18 and Jack Kostyshen '18, attended the Oxbow School, a semester program in Napa, California, that focuses on studio artmaking and interdisciplinary humanities. Anna and Jack spent spring semester of junior year studying visual arts and an academic curriculum.

"We studied our regular curriculum that we would have studied at Woodward but in a different way," Jack says. "Oxbow utilizes a project-based curriculum, meaning instead of test and grades, they assigned projects, hosted discussions in class, and pushed us to pursue our personal inquiries. Alongside their version of regular high school academics, we studied visual arts of all types, also with a project-based curriculum."

Jack is a multimedia artist who bases his work in painting and incorporates sculptural aspects; he also spends time drawing and printmaking. For her part, Anna shared an artist's statement on "Reflections," the painting she completed at Oxbow:

What is the influence of our limited perception? Our senses only give us a very narrow scope of the world around us, and are easily manipulated. Descartes found that the only belief that can be proven from our restricted perception is that "I" exist; "I think, therefore I am." Our sensory organs are the barrier between our mind and the external world, so we interact with our (possibly nonexistent) surroundings indirectly. Can we trust our limited perception to correctly view ourselves physically? Since beauty is subjective, how I view myself could be different from how somebody else views me. Berkeley states, "To be is to be perceived." Nothing can exist if there is no one perceiving it. If we cannot directly observe how we are acquiring our senses, how can we make any claims about the external world, including our bodies? The flaws and positive attributes we notice about our bodies are only present because we imagine them to be there. We hold physical form and our conception of that form is wholly mental. How does our perception and reality interact if they are not in the same system? Can beauty be physical and mental? If so, can beauty help overlap these two dimensions?

My intention is for the viewer's focus to be on the figure's reflection. The reflection morphs her appearance, but how different is her reflection from her direct image? How does she see herself versus how do we see her? I want to call into question our perception, and to push people to come to the conclusion that perception is not objective, especially towards ourselves.

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