QUARTZ MOUNTAIN STATE PARK, OKLAHOMA — The numbers vary slightly from year to year.
The 40th Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute invited 273 of the most talented teenagers in the state, just as they have since 1977.
They stay two weeks at Quartz Mountain, but those two weeks stay with them for the rest of their lives.
This year’s orchestra conductor Timothy Long remembers coming here for the first time in 1983.
“It was my first time to play in an orchestra,” he recalls, “And I felt like I was playing with stars.”
This magical place remains a powerful influence.
He says, “I think this place was one of the first where I really felt the collective magic about the arts.”
Graham Carroll’s high school didn’t offer any classes in film or video.
Coming here as a student, then coming back as a teacher, made all the difference.
“I don’t think I would still be making movies if it weren’t for the Summer Arts Institute,” says Carroll.
The refrain is constant, ‘the best summer of their lives’, ‘eye opening’, ‘immersive’.
Students concentrate on their own talents but are exposed to so much more.
Arts Institute President Julie Cohen says that’s by design just as it was when she came as a young photographer in 1984.
She points out, “You’re studying your own discipline while you’re here but you’re exposed to eight other disciplines.”
The past is everywhere you look at the Summer Arts Institute.
People who’s lives were changed by a couple of weeks at Quartz Mountain, people like photography instructor Ben Long keep coming back to be part of something special.
“I feel like I have a blood debt to this place,” says Long. “It has impacted my life so much I have to come back.”
The magic from time spent here is something that stays with everyone year round.
For more information on the OSAI including how to support it go to www.oiaquartz.org