Black Mountain College
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|Black Mountain College|
|Type||Liberal arts college|
|Director||John Andrew Rice|
|Admin. staff||about 30|
|Students||about 1,200 total|
|Location||Asheville and Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States|
Black Mountain College Historic District
|Nearest city:||Black Mountain, North Carolina|
|Area:||586.9 acres (237.5 ha)|
|Architectural style:||Bungalow/craftsman, International Style|
|Added to NRHP:||October 5, 1982|
Black Mountain College, a school founded in 1933 in Black Mountain, North Carolina, was a new kind of college in the United States in which the study of art was seen to be central to a liberal arts education, and in which John Dewey's principles of education played a major role. Many of the school's students and faculty were influential in the arts or other fields, or went on to become influential. Although notable even during its short life, the school closed in 1957 after only 24 years.
Founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier, and other former faculty members of Rollins College, Black Mountain was experimental by nature and committed to an interdisciplinary approach, attracting a faculty that included many of America's leading visual artists, composers, poets, and designers, like Buckminster Fuller, who invented the geodesic dome.
Operating in a relatively isolated rural location with little budget, Black Mountain College inculcated an informal and collaborative spirit and over its lifetime attracted a venerable roster of instructors. Some of the innovations, relationships, and unexpected connections formed at Black Mountain would prove to have a lasting influence on the postwar American art scene, high culture, and eventually pop culture. Buckminster Fuller met student Kenneth Snelson at Black Mountain, and the result was the first geodesic dome (improvised out of slats in the school's back yard); Merce Cunningham formed his dance company; and John Cage staged his first happening (the term itself is traceable to Cage's student Allan Kaprow, who applied it later to such events).
Not a haphazardly conceived venture, Black Mountain College was a consciously directed liberal arts school that grew out of the progressive education movement. In its day it was a unique educational experiment for the artists and writers who conducted it, and as such an important incubator for the American avant garde. Black Mountain proved to be an important precursor to and prototype for many of the alternative colleges of today ranging from Naropa University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Marlboro College to Evergreen State College, Bennington College, Hampshire College, Shimer College, Prescott College, Goddard College, World College West (1973-1992), and New College of Florida, among others, including Warren Wilson College located just minutes down the road from where Black Mountain College was located.
For the first eight years, the college rented the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly buildings south of Black Mountain, North Carolina. In 1941, it moved across the valley to its own campus at Lake Eden where it remained until its closing in 1956. The property was later purchased and converted to an ecumenical Christian boys' residential summer camp (Camp Rockmont), which later became a long-time location of the Black Mountain Festival and the Lake Eden Arts Festival. A number of the original structures are still in use as lodgings or administrative facilities.
The college suspended classes by court order in 1957. This was due to debts not sustained by the decreased number of students. In 1962, the school's books were finally closed, with all debts covered.
Faculty and alumni 
Among those who taught there in the 1940s and 1950s were:
Josef and Anni Albers, Eric Bentley, Ilya Bolotowsky, Josef Breitenbach, John Cage, Harry Callahan, Mary Callery, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Trude Guermonprez Max Dehn, Willem de Kooning, Robert Duncan, Buckminster Fuller, Walter Gropius, Lou Harrison, Alfred Kazin, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Richard Lippold, Alvin Lustig, Charles Olson, M. C. Richards, Albert William Levi, Alexander Schawinsky, Ben Shahn, Arthur Siegel, Aaron Siskind, Theodoros Stamos, Jack Tworkov, Robert Motherwell, Emerson Woelffer, and William R. Wunsch.
Notable alumni 
- Ruth Asawa (faculty as well)
- Harrison Begay, painter
- Lyle Bongé
- Nicholas Cernovich
- John Chamberlain (faculty as well)
- Robert Creeley
- Fielding Dawson
- Elaine de Kooning
- Stephen De Staebler
- Ed Dorn
- Jorge Fick
- Joseph Fiore
- James Leo Herlihy
- Ray Johnson
- Karen Karnes
- Basil King
- Gwendolyn Knight
- Hazel Larson
- Ingeborg Lauterstein
- Jane Mayhall (1918–2009), poet
- Peter Nemenyi
- Robert De Niro, Sr.
- Kenneth Noland
- H. Peter Oberlander
- Joel Oppenheimer
- Pat Passlof
- Arthur Penn
- Charles Perrow
- Robert Rauschenberg
- Dorothea Rockburne
- Michael Rumaker
- Manvel Schauffler
- Oli Sihvonen
- Kenneth Snelson
- Claude Stoller
- Dody Weston Thompson
- Cy Twombly
- John Urbain
- Elaine Schmitt Urbain
- Stan VanDerBeek
- Cora Kelley Ward
- David Jacques Way
- Susan Weil
- John Wieners
- Jonathan Williams
- Vera B. Williams
- Judd Woldin
Black Mountain poets 
Various avant-garde poets (subsequently known as the Black Mountain poets) were drawn to the school through the years, most notably Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Jonathan Williams, Ed Dorn, and Robert Creeley. Creeley was hired to teach and to edit the Black Mountain Review in 1955, and when he left two years later for San Francisco, he became the link between the Black Mountain poets and the poets of the San Francisco Renaissance. Through Allen Ginsberg, a link with the Beat generation writers of Greenwich Village was initiated.
Further reading 
- Collier, Caroline (ed.) (2005). Starting at Zero: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957. Arnolfini Gallery and Cambridge University. ISBN 978-0-907738-78-7.
- Harris, Mary Emma (2002). The Arts at Black Mountain College. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-58212-4.
- Katz, Vincent (ed.) (2003). Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-60071-2.
- Lane, Marvin (ed.) (c1990). Black Mountain College: Sprouted Seeds: an Anthology of Personal Accounts. University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 978-0-87049-663-9.
- Duberman, Martin (c1972/1993). Black Mountain An Exploration in Community. W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-30953-3.
- Rumaker, Michael (c2003). Black Mountain Days. Black Mountain Press. ISBN 0-9649020-8-7.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Harris, Mary Emma (2002). The Arts at Black Mountain College, p. 226. MIT Press.
- "Trude Guermonprez". Collection. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- Heller, Steven; Lustig Cohen, Elaine (2010). Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig. pp. 178–180. ISBN 978-0-8118-6127-4.
- Fox, Margalit. "Jane Mayhall, Poet Who Gained Prominence Late in Life, Is Dead at 90", The New York Times, March 19, 2009. Accessed March 19, 2009.
- Berke, Joseph (29 October 1965), "The Free University of New York", Peace News: 6–7 as reproduced in Jakobsen, Jakob (2012), Anti-University of Londin–Antihistory Tabloid, London: MayDay Rooms, pp. 6–7
- Harris (2002), p. 245.
- Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
- The Journal of Black Mountain College Studies http://www.blackmountainstudiesjournal.org/wp
- The Black Mountain College Project
- Black Mountain College: Collections in the North Carolina State Archives
- Fully Awake: Black Mountain College Documentary the only documentary solely on Black Mountain College. The story of BMC is woven through interviews with students, professors and modern scholars with archival footage and photographs.
- Honoring the Mind's Eye article on Hazel Larsen Archer, a photographer who documented her years at the college in the 1940s and early '50s
- Bauhaus in America a documentary about the influence of the Bauhaus on America, including a segment on Black Mountain College with Anni Albers, Ted and Bobbi Dreier, et alia. produced and directed by Judith Pearlman, Cliofilm.
- Black Mountain College Celebration 75th Anniversary of Black Mountain College
- Asheville Art Museum
- Finding Aid for the Black Mountain College Collection at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- Finding Aid for Black Mountain College Publications at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- Asheville, North Carolina, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
- University of Connecticut special collections related to Black Mountain writers