Black Mountain College? Why now?
BMC, 1933-1957, was one
of the most important and influential experiments in education in the 20th century. Its teachers and students went on to shape dance, music,
theatre, literature, architecture, and the visual arts for the next several decades. BMC was also a
response to the rigid educational models that produced passive students spreading across the US at the beginning of the 20th century. So,
its vision was one of engaged learning fueled by a conscious attention to the role of the imagination and arts. Educational reform is in the air in the
US today—reform based upon arts integrated learning. So BMC is an idea whose time has come.
The Spirit of Black Mountain College is the ONLY
official 75th Anniversary celebration
planned for this ground breaking and experimental
college. For further information, please
reference the web site for Black Mountain College
Arts Center, located in Asheville at
Several artists now known around the world were
associated with Black Mountain College as teachers
or students. These included writer Charles Olson,
composer John Cage, architect Buckminster Fuller,
dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, poet
Robert Creeley, and potter and poet M.C. Richards.
The following painters also taught at the school:
Josef Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning,
Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell. The recently
deceased painter Robert Rauschenberg was one of its
most famous students.
college was a site for many innovations.
Construction of the first large-scale geodesic dome
was attempted at Black Mountain College by
Buckminster Fuller in 1948. The first multimedia
“happening,” staged by John Cage, occurred at the
college in 1952. The Black Mountain Review
(1954-1957) published influential writers such as
Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder.
Several former students of poet Robert Creeley, a
member of the Black Mountain College faculty, will
speak and read from their own work at the Hickory
festival. Other highlights will include a display of
art at the Hickory Museum of Art; theatrical,
musical and multi-media performances; and the North
Carolina Dance Theatre.
Spirit of Black Mountain College will also pay
tribute to Jonathan Williams (1929-2008), a poet,
publisher and photographer who attended Black
Mountain College. He was the founder of The Jargon
Society press, one of the most renowned small
presses of the last half of the 20th century.
who will speak at the festival include the
Galway Kinnell, a poet
who has received the Pulitzer Prize, the National
Book Award and a MacArthur Fellowship.
Michael Rumaker, a 1955 graduate of
Black Mountain College who is the author of 12
books, including “Black Mountain Days.”
Lisa Jarnot, a poet and novelist who
teaches at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School
of Disembodied Poetics and at Brooklyn College.
Lee Ann Brown, a filmmaker, performer
and writer who is a former student of Robert Creeley.
Jeff Davis, a poet, blogger, teacher and a student
of both Robert Creeley and Fred Chappell. Davis
attended UNC-Greensboro’s MFA program in creative
writing and also apprenticed to a native carver of
ceremonial masks and totem poles in Alert Bay,
Thomas Meyer, a poet whose writing
reflects his wide-ranging interests and research.
Festival performances will include the following:
Thomas Rain Crowe and
The Boatrockers, a North Carolina-based
world-music, spoken-word band.
Ted Pope, a Morganton,
N.C.-based electronic installation and multi-media
performance poet. He will perform “The Black
Mountains of Mars,” a piece written specifically for
Cilla Vee — Life Arts will
perform “Modus Operandi,” a spoof of a scientific
experiment in the tradition of John Cage’s “chance”
perform “The Gunslinger” by Edward Dorn, a 1955
graduate of Black Mountain College. The piece is
based on a five-volume poem, which is likened to
“Canterbury Tales,” as a group of people search for
enlightenment. The Playmakers will also perform
“Collage in 4 Dimensions,” a multi-media performance
inspired by the artists who taught at and emerged
from Black Mountain College.
The North Carolina Dance Theatre
will perform several pieces including “Night
Creature” by Alvin Ailey, “Who Cares?” by George
Balanchine, “Nine Sinatra Songs” by Twyla Tharp,
and “Verge” by Dwight Rhoden.
There will also be a musical
performance by Nils Vigeland, chair of the
composition department at the Manhattan School of
Music, who studied with Black Mountain College
composer Stefan Wolpe’s student Morton Feldman.
John Cheek, L-R professor of
music and Fulbright Scholar, will perform several
pieces by John Cage, a Black Mountain College
faculty member, and by Erik Satie, a leader in the
American experimental tradition.
The Hickory Museum of Art will present
“The Spirit of Black Mountain College,” an exhibit
that will run from Sept. 6 through Jan. 4. It will
include two- and three-dimensional works by artists
associated with Black Mountain College, including Anni Albers, Leo Krikorian, Ben Shahn, Robert
Motherwell, Elaine de Kooning, Hazel Larsen Archer
and 30 additional artists.