Black Mountain College
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|Type||Liberal arts college|
|Director||John Andrew Rice (until 1940)|
|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|
|NRHP Reference #||82001281|
|Added to NRHP||October 5, 1982|
Black Mountain College, a school founded in 1933 in Black Mountain, North Carolina (near Asheville, 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. The history and legacy of Black Mountain College is preserved and extended through Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, in downtown Asheville, NC.
The school's Lake Eden campus, used from 1941 to 1957, is now part of Camp Rockmont, a summer camp for boys, and the adjacent Lake Eden Events & Lodging.
Founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier, Frederick Georgia, and Ralph Lounsbury, all dismissed 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 developed 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 their first geodesic dome (improvised out of Venetian blind 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. The college was active at a time when other Southern colleges and universities remained segregated, and a decade before Brown v. Board of Education, an African American woman named Alma Stone Williams is considered by some to be the first black student to enroll in an all-white institution of higher education in the South during the Jim Crow era.
Additionally, the College was 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 College of the Atlantic, Naropa University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Marlboro College to Evergreen State 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. Bennington College was founded the year before Black Mountain College based on the same philosophy.
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, Fritz Cohen, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Edward Dahlberg, Max Dehn, Willem de Kooning, Robert Duncan, Buckminster Fuller, Joseph Fiore, Mary "Molly" Gregory, Walter Gropius, Trude Guermonprez, Lou Harrison, Wesley Huss, Alfred Kazin, Franz Kline, Tony Landreau, Jacob Lawrence, Albert William Levi, Leo Lionni, Richard Lippold, Alvin Lustig, Robert Motherwell, Beaumont Newhall, Charles Olson, M. C. Richards, Alexander Schawinsky, Ben Shahn, Arthur Siegel, Aaron Siskind, Theodoros Stamos, Robert C. Turner, Jack Tworkov, Peter Voulkos, Emerson Woelffer, Stefan Wolpe, and William R. Wunsch.
- Hazel Larson Archer
- Ruth Asawa (faculty as well)
- Harrison Begay, painter
- James Bishop, 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
- David Weinrib
- Basil King
- Gwendolyn Knight
- 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
- Clara Porset
- Michael Rumaker
- Manvel Schauffler
- Oli Sihvonen
- Kenneth Snelson
- Claude Stoller
- Deborah Sussman
- Dody Weston Thompson
- Cy Twombly
- John Urbain
- Elaine Schmitt Urbain
- Stan VanDerBeek
- Cora Kelley Ward
- David Jacques Way
- Susan Weil
- Eric Weinberger
- 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.
Black Mountain College is the subject of the museum exhibition Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, which opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston on October 10, 2015. The show was curated by Helen Molesworth with Ruth Erickson. The show exhibited at the Hammer Museum February 21, 2016 to May 15, 2016, which was organized by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, with MacKenzie Stevens, curatorial assistant and January Parkos Arnall, curatorial assistant.
- Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Mary Seymour, "The Ghosts of Rollins (and Other Skeletons in the Closet)", Rollins Magazine, fall 2011, http://www.rollins.edu/magazine/fall-2011/ghosts-of-rollins-2.html; John Andrew Rice, I Came Out of the Eighteenth Century (1942), reissued, with new introduction by Rice's grandson, William Craig Rice, University of South Carolina Press, 2014, ISBN 1611174368
- Harris, Mary Emma (2002). The Arts at Black Mountain College, p. 226. MIT Press.
- Anonymous. "Black Mountain College: A Pioneer in Southern Racial Integration". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 54: 46. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- Finding Aid: Mary Gregory Papers, State Archives of North Carolina, retrieved July 2016
- "1950s", 70 Years of Making: The Timeline (American Craft Council), retrieved July 2016
- "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.
- "James Bishop". Annemarie Verna Gallery. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
- 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.
- Swenson, Kirsten (December 16, 2015). "Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- "Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957". Hammer Exhibitions. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
- Díaz, Eva (2014). The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College. The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-06798-8.
- 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.
- Molesworth, Helen (2016). Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957. Institute of Contemporary Art in Association with the Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-21191-7.
- Lane, Marvin (ed.) (c. 1990). Black Mountain College: Sprouted Seeds: an Anthology of Personal Accounts. University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 978-0-87049-663-9.
- Duberman, Martin (17 December 1971). Black Mountain An Exploration in Community. W.W. Norton. ASIN B00SCVA4JQ. ISBN 0393309533.
- Rumaker, Michael (c. 2003). Black Mountain Days. Black Mountain Press. ISBN 0-9649020-8-7.
- Bennis, Warren & Biederman, Patricia Ward (1997). "Experiment at Black Mountain". Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration. Addison Wesley. pp. 142–170. ISBN 0-201-57051-3.
- Barry Schwabsky, "And There Were Snakes", The Nation, March 14, 2016, pp. 27–30.
- Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
- Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Hazel Larson Archer
- The Journal of Black Mountain College Studies http://web.archive.org/web/20130705102410/http://www.blackmountainstudiesjournal.org:80/wp/
- The Black Mountain College Project
- 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
- Asheville, North Carolina, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
- 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
- University of Connecticut special collections related to Black Mountain writers
- Finding Aid of the Black Mountain College Photograph Collection, 1940 - 1945 at the State Archives of North Carolina's Western Regional Archives (Asheville)
- Finding Aid of the Black Mountain College Miscellaneous Collection, 1943 - 1945, 1975 - 2007 at the State Archives of North Carolina's Western Regional Archives (Asheville)
- Finding Aid of the North Carolina Museum of Art, Black Mountain College Research Project, 1933 - 1973 at the State Archives of North Carolina's Western Regional Archives (Asheville)
- Additional finding aids for the private papers of scholars, faculty, and students associated with Black Mountain College at the State Archives of North Carolina's Western Regional Archives (Asheville)
- Online archive of a portion of the State Archives of North Carolina's Black Mountain College collections
- "Buckminster Fuller's Experimental Finishing School," an excerpt from The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College by Eva Díaz.