• Photo: Elaine Zhou.

    Students Emily Tian and Lawrence Neil in front of Rudolf Stingel's Untitled, 2010, at Gagosian Gallery in New York during the annual Arts Immersion trip.


For a group of Stanford students last week, spring break meant plunging into the arts—in New York City.

Eighteen lucky students went to museums, galleries and performances. They danced with members of the Mark Morris Dance Group, met with art experts at Christie’s, attended a rehearsal of the New York Philharmonic—and much, much more. Throughout the week, students gathered their thoughts and impressions about the trip on tumblr.

The students were participating in the annual Arts Immersion trip to New York organized by the Stanford Arts Institute—one of many Stanford programs that give students the opportunity to delve deeply into the arts.

There’s something vital about immersion—about focusing, taking time away from distractions, becoming alive to the richness of an experience. The students are back on campus now and spring quarter will be hectic (although they’ll participate in a seminar to follow up on all the experiences from the trip). But as we know from students in the past, this week immersed in the arts will stay with them and stand out for its intensity.

Immersion is also one of the guiding principles behind the new first-year residential program Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture (ITALIC). This program—which just began this year—offers 45 freshmen the opportunity to live together as part of a tightly knit community, spending their first year at Stanford looking closely at the integration of arts across the university and in the world outside. So far this year students have participated in a weeklong residency with choreographer Jerome Bel, hosted a visit with comedian Tig Notaro and thrown themselves into learning about and making art. This year-long immersive experience will launch students of all majors into a Stanford career grounded in the arts.

Not every Stanford student will participate in a year-long residential arts experience, or even a week-long arts trip to New York. But thanks to these and many other programs across campus, Stanford students—and our broader Stanford community—have the opportunity to be immersed in the arts as never before—in a Stanford Live concert at Bing Concert Hall, an exhibition at the Cantor Arts Center or the new Anderson Collection at Stanford University (opening soon!), or one of the many arts programs, projects, classes, and groups across campus. I encourage everyone to jump in!