Previous Bowden Student Fellowships

2017: Inaugural Class of Dan Leslie Bowden Fellows share their stories

After a demanding application process and careful review, a committee of faculty members, including Mr. Bowden and chaired by Dr. John A. King Jr., recommended to Head of School Penny Townsend that six rising seniors – Violet Handforth ’18, Gabrielle Jadotte ’18, Stephen Kaiser ’18, Andrew Lorenzen ’18, Noa Richard ’18, Megan Zou ’18 – be named as the first class of Bowden Fellows. The committee was impressed by the thoughtfulness, creativity and curiosity exhibited in the fellows' proposals. The spirit of inquiry, passion and interest in the human condition seen in their proposals has carried the Bowden Fellows through their work this summer. They can all be proud of the impressive work that they produced and the intellectual growth they experienced. From making films to doing international historical research to exploring more carefully the uniqueness of the human body itself, all of the fellows in their own way explored what it means to be human. They examined the potential inherent in human beings, the depths of human emotion, and the joy of the human spirit.

The inaugural class of Dan Leslie Bowden Fellows in the Humanities describe their projects in their own words below.

List of 6 items.

  • Violet Handforth ’18: Art immersion at RISD

    The Bowden Fellowship granted me the opportunity to attend the Rhode Island School of Design pre-college summer program in Providence, R.I. This course truly opened my eyes to an immersive art school experience that thoroughly changed my life and for which I will be forever grateful. At RISD, I was exposed to a plethora of new materials and techniques that gave me a greater sense of perspective in terms of art making. I used charcoal, inks and paint, and was able to do life drawings of nude figure models, and skeletons from the wonderful RISD nature lab. In addition, through RISD’s “crit” sessions, in which students and teachers critique and discuss each student’s work in a group setting, I learned how to talk about my work and present myself as an artist. The atmosphere at RISD was alive and buzzing, as I was surrounded by passionate, motivated students who truly loved art and making art as much as I do. Because of this, I was able to create drawings that will enrich my portfolio. Essentially, my RISD experience solidified my desire to become a full-fledged artist and gave me the tools and the confidence to do so, which is invaluable to me. I look forward to exhibiting and discussing the work I produced this summer on campus, and bringing the creative and critical techniques I learned to the art studios at RE.
  • Gabrielle Jadotte ’18: Exposing Miami’s youth to art

    “Fins up!” For three weeks in June, that was the phrase I said the most when trying to capture the attention of elementary school students in the Achieve Miami Summer Program Art Track. Whether it was lining the kids up after lunch or trying to get them to clean up after their daily art projects, “Fins up” was always needed. But when local Haitian artist JaFleu walked into the room one afternoon and started placing his original paintings on the whiteboard, the students quickly became quiet and paid rapt attention to their special guest. JaFleu was one of three artists that I arranged to come meet with the Art Track students at the Achieve Miami Summer Program, which allows students who wouldn’t be able to attend traditional summer camp engage in meaningful learning with high school students. My Bowden Fellowship allowed me to enhance the program by bringing in local artists that children could relate to culturally and socially, and having the artists speak and work with the kids. The three artists, JaFleu, Adler Gurreir, and Kandy Lopez, made the program a success by creating projects, working closely with the students and inspiring many of them. One nine-year-old student told JaFleu that he “was way cooler than any rapper ever and the paintings were better than any music a rapper could make.” That single heartfelt statement strengthened my desire to make artists more accessible to young children. I would love to include my peers in my project by coordinating artists’ visits and art shows that include the whole Ransom Everglades community.
  • Stephen Kaiser ’18: Historical research in Shanghai

    The story of the Jewish migration and survival in Shanghai during World War II is an amazing story, which has brought to life world history for me. It has been overshadowed by the chaos of the 1930s and 1940s and the Nazi atrocities of the Holocaust. The Jewish people were able to survive in Shanghai as a result of a preexisting Jewish community and Japan’s favorable history with Jews prior to WWII. Additionally, to understand how China permitted these refugees to migrate to Shanghai, I had to do in-depth and detailed historical research on modern post-imperial Chinese history. I researched a tremendous amount of history involving interactions between, the Middle East, China, Japan, Russia, Europe and North America before and during this time period.

    Dr. John King, Dr. Kathryn Bufkin and Mr. Youming Che have been instrumental in assisting me throughout this project, which culminated in a paper I submitted in August to the Concord Review. As I pursued my studies, I met extraordinary people and had incredible interactions. The adjacent photograph shows an interview I conducted with Shanghai artist Li Shoubai, who had recently released a painting about the Shanghai Jewish refugee experience and the relationship between the Jews and the Chinese. In this photograph, he is explaining to me his inspiration for his painting and is describing in Chinese his memories from his childhood of the Jewish people. I am extremely thankful to the Bowden Fellowship and Ransom Everglades for the amazing assistance and encouragement that facilitated this project.
  • Andrew Lorenzen ’18: Creating a feature film

    Through the generosity of the Bowden Fellowship grant, this summer I was able to shoot my first feature film, To the Moon, which was partially based on a play I wrote and directed on campus. The script tells three intertwining stories of college students on the precipice of entering the real world, tackling themes of idealism, nostalgia, responsibility and aspiration. I assembled a 12-person cast and crew composed of a mix of professional South Florida actors and Ransom Everglades students (Hannah Tacher ’18, Thor Wahlestedt ’18, Chris Duyos ’17) and spent much of June and early July rehearsing, scouting locations, acquiring props/set pieces, practicing with film equipment, researching shooting and editing techniques, and revising the script. The grant enabled the purchasing of professional film equipment, props and set pieces. We spent roughly four weeks shooting in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and Miami Beach. Filming was a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience. On a typical day, I (serving as writer, director and producer) would do everything from coordinating food services, rearranging set pieces, writing shot lists, organizing props/costumes, rehearsing with actors, synchronizing camera movement, recording sound and managing personalities on set. Shoot days frequently ran from 10 a.m. to past midnight. Yet despite the long hours and taxing labor, I loved every minute of it. I cannot thank Ms. Jen Nero, Ms. Kate Hamm and Dr. John King enough for all of the wisdom and guidance they provided on the project! I grew as a leader, filmmaker and person, and I couldn’t have spent my summer in a better way. The film is currently in postproduction and will be submitted to film festivals across the country and abroad this winter with premiere details to follow.
  • Noa Richard ’18: The plight of Syrian refugees

    In headline after headline, lives of Syrian refugees may seem a world away, but in reality, these are stories of real people in our own community. The premise behind my Bowden Fellowship was to film a short documentary that would explore the human condition of these displaced people and provide a platform for the voices of Syrian refugee families in Miami, voices rarely heard. This opportunity introduced me to their world, a world that was foreign yet familiar. My first interaction with these resilient people came at the Syrian Supper Club, monthly dinners in Coconut Grove held in honor of recently arrived families. The dinners allow the Syrians to cook their food and celebrate their culture, while sharing their stories. I was nervous, hoping to make the right impression and garner their trust; enough trust that they would feel comfortable sharing their lives on camera. My film touches on the pain of their past, while looking to their future. The documentary will help to raise awareness and empower the women. I am grateful to faculty member Ms. Jen Nero for offering invaluable guidance and support on this life-changing
    project. Ms. Nero introduced me to law professor Jessi Tamayo ’99, under whose direction I collaborated on the startup of an all-female Syrian catering business that helps Syrian women contribute to their families’ income. It has been gratifying to conduct compelling interviews and build strong relationships, since my work on the documentary will continue throughout my senior year. The doors opened by the Bowden Fellowship have been most rewarding and have broadened my understanding of the world around me.
  • Megan Zou ’18: Art at Harvard

    Receiving a Bowden Fellowship allowed me to take a course on acute observation at the Harvard Summer School. The class focused on the design and structure of the American environment in relation to the changing fabric of American society. I was able to learn about a variety of things, from the history of the color chartreuse, to the etymology of the word landscape, to the specifics of gas station design. The topics were largely unrelated subjects with one point: details matter. The female focus of Renoir’s Dance in the Country, for example, is painted in light and warm colors, in stark contrast to the blues and greens of the background and the male focus. Similarly, an advertisement with a wooden rowboat instead of a fiberglass one in the background is an intentional choice; wooden boats take time and maintenance. Whether in paintings or architecture or communities, the small details play important roles. Knowing and recognizing details like this allow us to be more aware and mindful of how we perceive the world around us. I hope that sharing essays and artwork from this summer with the Ransom Everglades community will encourage others to enjoy and pay attention more to their surroundings. In doing so, people might learn unexpected things or find new hobbies and passions.

RE STUDIES

2017 Bowden Fellows share their work with peers during assembly on Oct. 10, 2017

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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.