Elena Schaef ’16 Mobilizes Art to Reach Disadvantaged Students

Elena Schaef ’16 Empowers Students Through Art from Bowdoin College on Vimeo.

It’s always evident when the ArtVan comes to town: it’s a 12-passenger van splashed with multicolored designs over every visible surface, filled to the brim with art supplies — and you can spot Elena Schaef ’16 behind the wheel. ArtVan is a non-profit art therapy organization that brings the arts to disadvantaged kids of all ages who would not otherwise have access to the same type of creative outlet.

Building on her experience working and performing with Bowdoin’s theater department, Schaef has developed an improv theater program to do with ArtVan participants this summer, including costume design and warmup games. “Art just crosses all kinds of boundaries,” Schaef says, “and really digs into your subconscious in a way that you don’t need to train or hone.”

This video was shot at the ArtVan headquarters in Fort Andross and at Tree Street Youth in Lewiston, Maine.


  1. Justin J. Pearson '17 says:

    This is such an amazing program! Congratulations and I wish you continued success. #WeAreBowdoin

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