robertogreco + blackmountaincollege   110

Black Mountain College Museum on Instagram: “Our 11th annual ReVIEWING Black Mountain College conference is coming up on Friday, September 20th at the UNC Asheville Reuter Center! We…”
"This year's conference will kick off with a panel discussion with Mary Emma Harris (The Bauhaus and Black Mountain College: Envisioning an Education for a New Kind of World) and Thomas E. Frank (How Not to Start a College: Black Mountain Among the Experimental Colleges). That evening, artist Sara VanDerBeek and Chelsea Spengemann, Director of the Stan VanDerBeek Archive, will present a keynote address centered around the curation of VanDerBeek + VanDerBeek, opening that night at BMCM+AC. ⁠

For a full schedule of panel, performance and workshops visit www.blackmountaincollege.org/reviewing/⁠
thomasfrank  maryemmaharris  bmc  blackmountaincollege  colleges  highered  highereducation  history  events  2019 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Naropa University Archive Project Black Mountain School Lecture | Naropa University
"In this talk, delivered at Naropa in the spring of 2005, Anselm Hollo traces the lineage of The Kerouac School, especially its relationship to Black Mountain College."
blackmountaincollege  sanfrancisco  bmc  jackkerouac  blackmountainschool  poetry  anselmhollo  2005 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Weirdness and Joy of Black Mountain College | The Nation
"Can the art of teaching art be exhibited? No, but people keep trying."

...

"Can art be taught? That question isn’t as old or as hoary as one might imagine. For many centuries, artists were taught, either through a studio apprenticeship or, later, in a formal academy. It only became possible to think of art as something different in the 19th century, when the old system fell apart and it seemed conceivable that anyone could be an artist. But very few people were. Perhaps being an artist was the result of some peculiar inner drive or necessity, some genius that burned in certain kinds of people—something they were born with rather than something that they learned. The question has by now fueled two centuries’ worth of bar banter, family quarrels, and panel discussions. What keeps the conversation going is that many of the people who say that art can’t be taught still make their living by teaching it. Teaching does have its own rewards, and so does trying to learn, whether the learning “takes” or not.

A related question is easier to answer: Can the art of teaching art be exhibited? No, but people keep trying. The ambitious show “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957,” at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, is the latest such effort. (It will be on view at the Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, from February 21 to May 15, and then at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University in Columbus from September 17 to January 1, 2017. A handsome catalog is available from Yale University Press.) In fact, Black Mountain exhibitions have become a genre unto themselves. “Leap Before You Look,” curated by Helen Molesworth, formerly of the ICA/Boston and now at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, is the fourth that I know of. The first, which I saw in 2002, was “Black Mountain College: Una Aventura Americana,” curated by Vincent Katz, at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. Then came “Starting at Zero: Black Mountain College 1933–1957,” curated by Caroline Collier and Michael Harrison, at the Arnolfini in Bristol, England, and Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, in 2005 and 2006. And last summer, I paid a visit to the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin, which mounted “Black Mountain: An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933–1957,” curated by Eugen Blume and Gabriele Knapstein.

Why the recurring preoccupation with a short-lived, unaccredited school at the back of beyond, which never had enough students to pay its way? It could be the school’s believe-it-or-not story and how, the more you learn about it, the more unlikely it seems. The tale begins in 1933, when an unorthodox, arrogant classics professor named John Andrew Rice and several of his colleagues were purged from Rollins College in Florida. A number of their fellow professors resigned in protest, and some students withdrew as well. Bent on starting a college of their own, they found a complex of buildings for rent near Asheville, North Carolina, and some start-up money—but not much. At first, the faculty worked without salaries, but at least they owned the joint: The papers of incorporation specified that “the sole membership of the corporation” would be “the whole body of the faculty.” In other words, there was no board of directors and no non-teaching administration either, so the instructors had no other masters than themselves.

There was splendor and misery at Black Mountain, which was run according to the will of its teachers and, to a great extent, its students. The faculty believed that the curriculum should reflect what the students needed or desired to learn. This principle runs contrary not only to the present conception of the student as a consumer or client who is to be supplied with certain knowledge, but also to the designs of the conservative governors of North Carolina, Wisconsin, and other states, who believe that they should have the final say over what’s being taught and who’s doing the teaching at their state colleges and universities. At Black Mountain, teachers and students committed themselves to shared undertakings, the educational equivalent of socialism: from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

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"Black Mountain’s founder had in his own way anticipated the Maoist doctrine of continuous revolution. “At one time Rice said he thought the college should disperse every ten years into smaller units,” recalled M.C. Richards, the English professor turned potter who’d been instrumental in bringing Olson to the campus. “This was to avoid too much stability. It was to be faithful to the chaos out of which creativity constellates.” No one was better at cultivating chaos and spangling the atmosphere with its constellations than Olson. Who else would have thought of suggesting to a fellow poet, Robert Creeley, that he fill in as a teacher of biology? When Creeley pointed out that he’d never studied the subject, even in high school, Olson “said, ‘Terrific, you can learn something,’” Creeley recalled. “Subsequently, I realized that teaching is teaching. It has, paradoxically, nothing to do with the subject.” In other words, true learning, as described by Jacques Rancière in The Ignorant Schoolmaster, is fostered by teaching what one does not know.

As Rancière wrote, this kind of education can never be institutionalized; “it is the natural method of the human mind,” yet everything works against it. No wonder Black Mountain could never come to terms with the outside world or itself. Robert Duncan, in his extraordinary poem “The Song of the Border-Guard”—shown in “Leap Before You Look” as a broadside accompanied by a Twombly linocut—imagines “a barbarian host at the border-line of sense.” Which side of the border was Black Mountain on? Were its denizens the barbarians readying themselves to overcome the common sense of Eisenhower’s America, or were they guardians of a deeper sense of life and learning against the yahoo horde surrounding them? No matter. “The enamourd guards desert their posts / harkening to the lion-smell of a poem / that rings in their ears.” And the poem of Black Mountain still rings in ours."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  pedagogy  teaching  education  highereducation  highered  2016  barryschwabsky  leapbeforeyoulook  johnandrewrice  rancière  reproduction  ephemeral  ephemerality  institutions  institutionalization  lcproject  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  sfsh  cv  art  arts  socialism  jacquesrancière 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The most influential college you’ve never heard of, why it folded, and why it matters | Scalawag
"But Black Mountain College was not, strictly speaking, an art school. And it certainly didn’t start that way. In 1933, classics professor John Andrew Rice tossed the snowball that kicked off a decades-long avalanche, foregoing more pointed Latin and Greek coursework at Rollins College to lead his students on Socratic journeys about topics from religion to “What is Art” and bad-mouthing academic hierarchy. The Rollins College president, a self-proclaimed “experimenter in education,” was nonetheless displeased. For this curricular skullduggery, and for Rice’s generally winking attitude toward authority, he had Rice fired.

Popular as Rice was, his exit caused a scandal. When the dust settled, eight professors had left Rollins, and a number of students with them. After some uncertainty, Rice and his colleagues decided to put their rebellious philosophies to test. Thanks to a local professor, property was located in western North Carolina, a grand colonnaded hall atop an Appalachian hill in the shadows of the Blue Ridge; funders were secured to support the endeavor; teachers were recruited. From a pedagogic schism, Black Mountain College was born.

The goal was from the outset to approach education in an unregimented way. There were no required courses, no extensive examinations, no formal grading. The school was not even accredited, “graduating” only sixty students throughout its lifetime. Yet its alums were accepted by graduate schools and as transfers, from Harvard to Princeton to the Pasadena Playhouse College of the Theatre, despite their lack of certificates.

To ensure an open curriculum, the founders decided to avoid top-down control, instead granting ownership of the school to the whole faculty evenly, including new hires. Meanwhile, the school decided to make no decisions without student input—student officers could be present at faculty meetings and would sit on the governing Board of Fellows (constituted otherwise of a subgroup of the professoriate). Discussions of school policy were typically open affairs attended by all. Collectivism was applauded; democracy reigned.

This opened space for BMC’s idea that learning and living should interlace. As Louis Adamic, who spent three months at the school as a curious visitor, described the method in a breathless 1936 article for Harper’s: “At BMC there is no head-cramming. There education is experience that involves in action the whole person.”

To that end, Rice and his cofounders made art a core piece of the Black Mountain experience, in an effort to get each student to “put the same faith in doing that he has been taught to have in absorbing,” as an early school catalogue put it. Serendipitously (for Black Mountain, anyway), the year of the college’s founding, the Nazis closed down the radical Bauhaus art school in Germany. Josef and Anni Albers, looking to escape the rising tide of fascism, agreed to come on at BMC to teach art, despite the fact, as Josef wrote, that he did not “speak one word English.” In subsequent years, many Germans would follow.

The Albers’ arrival was a coup for the school. It immediately provided a strong artistic spine and influenced the pedagogy greatly: Josef was a champion of a humanistic approach to education, of art as a way to engage the world completely. So while art was central, everyone was not to become an artist, per se; instead, art looked more like the core of a liberal arts education today. BMC alum Will Hamlin described the result to historian Martin Duberman: “I think we had this in common with the painters and weavers and musicians, that we were trying to make some kind of order out of things, I mean really trying, not just pretending to be… I think we were—with a few exceptions—really working at creating our own universes of meaning.”

The decision to avoid any sort of administrative board cut both ways. The educational model was open as the sky. But the school was constantly scrambling for money, seemingly always on the verge of closing—although it still maintained a pay-what-you-can system (sometimes counterbalanced by accepting wealthier students for that reason alone).

The “precariousness, though deplored and decried at the time, may well have contributed to the community élan,” as Duberman writes. “The severity of the struggle for economic survival helped to knit the community together.” The upshot was a focus on collectively tending to the college: a work program was instituted early on, and students and professors alike worked a farm that provided food for sustenance and sometimes sale, constructed new school buildings, washed dishes, and maintained the grounds. This was cause for grumbling in some corners—it was work, after all—and romantic reverie in others. Rice, the school’s cheeky founder, perhaps summed up the ambivalent attitude best in his autobiography. “Untoiling poets may sing of the dignity of toil;” he wrote, “others know there is degradation in obligatory sweat.”

Nevertheless, there was definite communal buy-in among the Black Mountaineers. When psychologist John Wallen joined the faculty in 1945, he broadened the question of collective responsibility by reaching out to the largely bemused and distrustful surrounding community. (There was a bit of a cultural gap between the school and its environs. A maintenance man on BMC’s first campus described the student body to me as many contemporary locals would: “nothing to do but moonshine and sex.”)

In many ways, the experiment was successful. Students volunteered in town, worked in the Southern Negro Youth Conference, registered voters, gathered signatures for petitions. But it was also short-lived, as Wallen left BMC contentiously not two years into his appointment, taking his ideals with him.

Still, while insulated at times from its surroundings, the school tackled the social issues of its day. It offered a home to German Jews, artists and intellectuals during another era when immigration vexed the United States. In 1944, ten years before Brown v. Board of Education, Alma Stone, a Black musician from Georgia, attended BMC’s summer institute in the Jim Crow South. The following summer black artists began to teach, and Black students enrolled full-time, some back from the war on the GI Bill. When the students went into town, they abided by segregation laws; but when outsiders came to Black Mountain for concerts, theater productions, and the like, everybody sat where they pleased.

Democracy proved hard. Immediately upon BMC’s founding, a more powerful group of faculty emerged at its helm: John Rice, Josef Albers, engineer Theodore Dreier, a few compatriots. Soon, some of their colleagues began to resent the group’s authority as at odds with the school’s mission; when Rice had a very public affair with a student in the late ’30s, it provided a catalyst to put him on leave for a time. He never returned.

Sans affair (although that continued to happen every so often), this process repeated itself throughout the school’s history: groups of professors were forced out or resigned, sometimes taking significant portions of the student body with them. Eventually even Albers fell victim to such a dispute after a younger crop of professors decided that he and his ilk had become too stuffy.

The infighting shaped life at the school and gives a sense of the easy-come-easy-go nature of the work. Professors were appointed initially to two-year terms, and later to one-year terms; there was no tenure. Faculty could be asked to leave for the vaguest of reasons—complaints about classroom technique became shorthand for any number of nebulous collegial gripes. Yet because they were part of steering the college, because of their great freedom in implementing their visions of education, professors came. And they stayed.

Josef and Anni Albers, despite the consistently meager pay, taught at the school for 16 years. Co-founder Theodore Dreier, too. Poet Mary Catherine Richards stayed seven years and continued to be involved with the school after she left. The poet Charles Olson stayed six years, until the school closed. (Some students stayed about as long.) The pay was bad, yes. But to be architects of education, rather than grunts on its front line, was for many worth the shortfall.

Albers’s exit in 1949 began the last, most incandescent period of BMC’s history, under the rectorship of Olson, a six-foot-seven-inch whirlwind of a man. After a (comparatively) more staid period in the late ‘40s, the school under Olson lived up to its ideals of radical experimentation. Any semblance of traditional course structure was scrapped, seminars ran until the wee hours of morning, the lines blurred fully between students and faculty. The literary arts took central importance, and the “Black Mountain School” of poets emerged, buoyed by Robert Creeley’s publication of the Black Mountain Review, a journal whose contributors also included Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.

The Olson years were BMC magnified: yet more cash-starved, yet more experimental, yet more soul-searching. Yet more famous alumni—painter Dorothea Rockburne emerged from this period as well—yet more piercing thought. But the lack of structure had its costs; dwindling enrollment meant emptier coffers, and finally, in 1956-7, the school’s closure. Professors and students spun off to more traditional universities, to new experiments in communal living, to Abstract Expressionist New York and the San Francisco of the Beats.

Black Mountain College’s troubles stemmed from staunch opposition to centralized hierarchical governance. The UNC system’s current issues lend credence to those fears. Early last year, after the NC Board of Governors reviewed 240 academic institutes and centers across the UNC system, they decided to close down three—the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, at UNC Chapel Hill; East Carolina University’s NC Center for Biodiversity; and … [more]
northcarolina  2016  sammyfeldblum  hierarchy  education  highered  highereducation  bmc  blackmountaincollege  josefalbers  johnandrewrice  charlesolson  democracy  art  arts  curriculum  openness  experience  experientialeducation  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  pedagogy  governance  politics  precarity  rollinscollege  authority  opencurriculum  living  lcproject  openstudioproject  louisadamic  martinduberman  precariousness  community  collectivism  responsibility  theodoredreier  marycatherinerichards  robertcreeley  history  horizontality 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Prospect of an Ideal Liberal Arts College Curriculum by Shane J. Ralston – BMCS
"Reconstructing the [John] Dewey - [Robert Maynard] Hutchins Debate"

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"What happened at Black Mountain College was for the most part what Rorty conjectured would happen if students came to college prepared and faculty could fully exercise their academic freedom. “Faculty [at Black Mountain] were to select their own methods of instruction,” Katherine Reynolds (1988:124) explains, “which might include ‘recitations, lectures, tutorials, and seminars.’” So, pluralism in curriculum design is, and should be, an obstinate feature of any flourishing academic community. One of the first steps in achieving more collaboration between great books proponents and their critics in such a pluralist community, then, is for both sides to admit that there is no fixed ideal that should dictate the content of the ideal liberal arts curriculum. Indeed, we could go one step further and claim that there is no ideal liberal arts curriculum, if what we mean by ‘ideal’ is an ultimate destination, telos or final end. Second, the distinction between subject matter and method should not be treated functionally, not dualistically. To treat it dualistically, and to choose content over method, as Hutchins did, risks alienating those faculty members, such as Rice, who do not rigidly adhere to course syllabi, but make the classroom a space for free-ranging and open-ended discussion and dialogue. Dewey (1966:133) resisted what he called in his 1899 Lectures in the Philosophy of Education a “more or less hard and fast separation” between subject matter and method, seeing them instead as inextricably connected in any intelligently designed curriculum. In this way, Dewey’s twin emphasis on educational subject matter and method represents a bridge between those, such as Hutchins and Adler, who saw content as the preeminent concern of curriculum development, and those, such as Rice, who focused largely on method. Third, and lastly, we should heed Dewey, Rice and Rorty’s plea for tolerant pluralism in the design of college curricula, allowing faculty the freedom to develop teaching methods and content as they see fit. Having had two colleagues at different institutions who were great books proponents (indeed, both were former students of St. John’s College), I know from personal experience that such collaboration is possible, though it demands humility, diplomacy and hard work if both parties hope to craft and realize a shared vision."
blackmountaincollege  bmc  shaneralston  liberalarts  curriculum  highered  highereducation  education  johndewey  johnandrewrice  rollinscollege  jimgarrison  philosophy  pedagogy  democracy  katherinereynolds  greatbooks  robertmaynardhutchins 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Radical Experimental College in the Blue Ridge Mountains — The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal
“North Carolina is widely respected for institutions such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, both research-intensive and high-prestige schools. But it’s less known for a radically experimental college that was tucked away in the Appalachian mountains more than half a century ago.

Just east of Asheville, Black Mountain College (BMC) was founded in 1933 and survived for 24 years until closing due to funding issues and a lack of students. But before it did, it had a strong core of teachers to attract students, attracting artists like Josef and Anni Albers from Germany after the Nazis rose to power and, in its later years, architect Buckminster Fuller and poet Charles Olson, among others. A liberal arts school, president John A. Rice emphasized the importance of the arts in every student’s education.

The education it offered was extremely atypical. Black Mountain didn’t have a standard grading system or set of classes; professors and students determined the curriculum together. It was unaccredited. It didn’t have a board of directors. During its existence, BMC only graduated about 60 students of the 1,200 who attended. Yet, despite this lack of standardization (or because of it), its students enrolled in graduate school at elite institutions and looked back fondly upon their time at Black Mountain.

“I think we’re wild about it because it had so many soap opera aspects to it,” said Joseph Bathanti, an expert on Black Mountain College and the McFarlane family distinguished professor in interdisciplinary education at Appalachian State University. “It’s become its kind of myth.”

That myth serves as something unimaginable in today’s higher education environment. Higher ed has many roadblocks that prevent any sort of Black Mountain 2.0: Many students think of college as the first credential necessary for a good job; most colleges are too bureaucratized and regulated to allow such campus experimentation; and campus officials are too resistant to change for a decentralized education approach to take hold. Though various college programs and academics have been influenced by Black Mountain College, it’s questionable whether any college working within traditional higher ed today could recreate something like BMC.

While chaotic and sometimes questionable in its approach, the disappearance of experimental colleges like Black Mountain has left American higher education more uniform and rigid. Such oddball schools would be regulated out of existence today; the curriculum would be seen as too individualized or low-quality because it doesn’t meet the requirements of an accreditor. “We have basic education plans, we have five-year strategies, we have long-term planning, we have tenure, we have accreditation, we have so many checks and balances, we have all these things that are antithetical to Black Mountain College,” Bathanti said. A college today can’t operate without a master plan directing it.

Such a school would also have no chance of getting approved for federal aid. Accessing federal aid wasn’t a problem in the 1940s, though. During its existence, veteran students could pay for BMC with their GI Bill benefits. Rules about federal student aid were much less strict then.

Black Mountain had a niche; its chaotic style attracted a certain type of student. Bathanti described them as “the people who had had disastrous experiences with traditional education.” Charles Perrow, a sociologist at Yale University who attended BMC in the late 1940s, wrote of the student body that:

Almost everyone there at this period seemed a poster-child of some sort, representing a fragment of our culture—the closet gay, the civil rights activist, the communist, the avant- garde painter, the urgent truth-seeker, the parent-escaper. My poster was being about the only student from the West Coast (most were from the Northeast, particularly New York City); about being the only one without parents and siblings who had attended college (most students, but certainly not all, were from a well-educated upper middle class, or intellectual elite class).

Perhaps due to attracting nontraditional and well-off students, the college’s expectations for them were different. Black Mountain didn’t sell itself as the key to a good job or its professors as all-knowing sages who would shape and monitor students. “It was presupposed that those students had a work ethic, that they were there, that they wanted to work on their stuff and didn’t need a warden,” Bathanti said. “Students these days, I don’t know the proper adjective, but they’re shepherded so much.”

The independence and drive that BMC students had is rarely found today, partially because colleges do not encourage such self-driven learning. Students arrive on campus and the college tells them what classes to take, or what classes they can choose from to fulfill a major’s requirements. The students today who can avoid being shepherded have to jump through hoops to do so, or belong to an honors college or honors program that offers more flexibility. Academic independence is a privilege for a few, not an expectation for all.

The focus on the arts and expectation for self-disciplined students led to a certain amount of cultural influence: the American poet Burt Kimmelman wrote that “one direct outgrowth of the College was the jolt of energy and innovation that dramatically affected arts communities in a number of cities, San Francisco and New York especially.”

If Black Mountain didn’t give students a diploma, it made up for this oversight by giving them a community and a network that was important for their success. Those connections might explain why students were so loyal to the institution in a way that’s hard for most colleges to develop. Students will sacrifice for and invest in a community—but they won’t sacrifice for a bureaucracy or a job training program.

“Students these days, I don’t know the proper adjective, but they’re shepherded so much.”

The advantages Black Mountain College had doesn’t mean it didn’t have flaws, of course. With few grades and graduates, the college resisted measurement and a diploma was economically worthless. Without a laborious on-campus evaluation from accreditors, discerning whether the school wasn’t defrauding taxpayers for financial aid would be impossible by today’s standards. A decentralized order can be both a benefit and a cost, and BMC doesn’t nicely fit into today’s higher ed regulatory environment. Its utopian ideals, too, left something to be desired. As the journalist Daniel Scheffler wrote in a 2015 City A.M. article about an art show focused on BMC:
BMC embraced the utopian ideals of the progressive education movement, stating that the arts should be the centrepiece of the curriculum, whether it be weaving and knitting, painting and sculpting, or music and photography. The lofty—if rather fuzzy—ideal: to “better educate citizens for participation in a democratic society.”

If the campus climate on self-styled progressive institutions like Evergreen State College is any indication, an experimental progressive college today may become a threat to free expression and academic inquiry. Instead of an antidote to a corporatized and uniform college education, a similar approach might result in the suppression of individualized thought and art. A 1952 college bulletin that Scheffler noted, for instance, stated, “The way of handling facts—and himself amid the facts—is more important than the facts themselves.” A loyalty to a political conception of “progress” can undermine the value of an experimental approach today. Black Mountain College may have been lucky to exist in the 1950s that allowed it to avoid present concerns and preserve its mythical status.

Reflecting on Black Mountain, Jonathan Palmer of Mendocino College and Maria Trombetta of San Francisco State University asked, “Does the educational structure of the college system impede our learning?” College access has expanded greatly since Black Mountain College closed its doors. But so has the influence of state and federal governments. The direct and indirect government funds have also brought standards, regulations, and a bevy of strings attached to the money. Many students can now get a rigorous college education at an affordable price, and employers don’t question the quality of their diplomas. But Black Mountain College serves as a reminder that American higher ed has also lost a certain freewheeling, experimental approach that served students who didn’t find a place in the traditional system.”
bmc  blackmountaincollege  2019  anthonyhennen  progressive  highered  highereducation  howwelearn  learning  education  democracy  danielscheffler  burtkimmelman  experimentation  josephbathanti 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Back to School: Re-creating Black Mountain College – Art in America
“Black Mountain College founder John Rice believed that if the school could impose the correct set of conditions, an utterly unique, freeform and nonhierarchical flow of ideas between teachers and students would inevitably follow. What the above exhibitions all share with Black Mountain College—and with the new school—is the foregrounding of circumstances that might alchemically generate new and important art and thinking. Romanticized conditions like cheap rent in dense urban neighborhoods, the crucial balance between proximity to an organic artist community and isolation from the art market, and an art education that emphasizes intellectual inquiry and collaboration over individual financial success come up again and again as ideal conditions that are vanishing from the art world and academia. This summer, the organizers of the new Black Mountain School will seek to reconstruct a lost environment in hopes of yielding a powerfully new set of results. Only time will tell if an encounter between a hallowed site’s mythology and the students of a new era can spark a genuinely distinctive sensibility. Yet it is worth remembering that Rice decided to start his own school only after he had been fired from his tenured position at Rollins College in Florida for his radical ideas about pedagogy. The new Black Mountain School reminds us that new conditions can only be established when the old ones have become intolerable.”
blackmountaincollege  education  bmc  blackmountainschool  ericadawnlyle  2016 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Josef Albers: “open Eyes” By Brenda Danilowitz | The Chinati Foundation | La Fundación Chinati
"To coincide with an exhibition of Josef Albers’s paintings opening at the Chinati Foundation in October 2006, the following pages feature an excerpt from Brenda Danilowitz’s essay in Josef Albers: To Open Eyes, a study of Albers as teacher, and essays on the artist written by Donald Judd over a 30-year period.

At the very moment Josef and Anni Albers found themselves unable to imagine their future in Germany, the offer of a teaching position at Black Mountain College arrived. This surprising invitation, which came in the form of a telegram from Philip Johnson, then head of the fledgling department of architecture and design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, was an unintended consequence of three events: Rice’s resignation; the attendant dismissals and sympathetic resignations of a group of Rice’s colleagues; and the founding by this group of idealistic and disenchanted academics of a new college where they hoped to realize, independently, their educational philosophies and dreams."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  josefalbers  annialbers  brendadanilowitz  teaching  howweteach  pedagogy  art  arts  education  arteducation  2006 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
BMCM+AC Bookstore on Instagram: ““I arrived [at BMC] with a suitcase full of 'peasant' blouses and dirndl skirts, as well as an evening gown, run up for me in Guatemalan…”
“I arrived [at BMC] with a suitcase full of 'peasant' blouses and dirndl skirts, as well as an evening gown, run up for me in Guatemalan cotton by a gay man in the Village. The gown was for 'proms,' events I assumed were an essential part of going away to college. I soon realized that my clothes were totally unsuited for life on a mountain, where the costume de rigueur was Levis, a tee-shirt and bare feet.” -Harriet Sohmers Zwerling⁠⠀
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Cheers to a casual weekend from BMC!⁠⠀
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Photo: Charlie Boyce, Charlotte Robinson and Nancy Miller, Fall 1948. Courtesy of the Western Regional Archives/State Archives of Western North Carolina.⁠
blackmountaincollege  bmc  clothing  clothes  harrietsohmerszwerling  howwlearn  levis  tees  t-shirts  uniform 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
BMCM+AC Bookstore on Instagram: “The one idea most commonly agreed upon was that “living” and “learning” should be intertwined. Education should proceed everywhere, not…”
The one idea most commonly agreed upon was that “living” and “learning” should be intertwined. Education should proceed everywhere, not only in classroom settings—which in fact, at least as usually structured, are among the worst learning environments imaginable. A favorite slogan at Black Mountain was that “as much real education takes place over the coffee cups as in the classrooms.”⁠⠀
-Martin Duberman in "Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community"⁠⠀
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Photo: Professor Charles Lindsley teaches a chemistry class on the lawn of the Blue Ridge Assembly. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives/State Archives of North Carolina
blackmountaincollege  bmc  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  life  living  howwelearn  howweteach  experience  experientiallearning  classrooms  martinduberman 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
BMCM+AC Bookstore (@bmcbooks) • Fotos y vídeos de Instagram
"The official store of @bmcmuseum + Jargon Press. Open Mon + Weds - Sat 11am - 5pm. Visit our museum or webpage to purchase."

[See also: https://www.bmcbooks.com/ ]
blackmountaincollege  bmc  books  jargonpress 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Black Mountain College Museum en Instagram: “"Civilization seems in general to estrange men from materials, from materials in their original form. The process of shaping these is so…”
""Civilization seems in general to estrange men from materials, from materials in their original form. The process of shaping these is so divided into separate steps that one person is rarely involved in the whole course of manufacture, often knowing only the finished product. But if we want to get from materials the sense of directness, the adventure of being close to the stuff the world is made of, we have to go back to the material itself, to its original state, and from there on partake in its stages of change." - Anni Albers (Black Mountain College Bulletin. Series 1, No. 5. Anni Albers, Work With Material, November 1938)⠀

Emerging in the aftermath of WWI and revolting against the consumerism of the Industrial Revolution, the Bauhaus was based upon the philosophy that good design, intentional design, the melding of function and art, can change the world. The quote above, from Anni Albers' essay "Work With Material," showcases how materials play a role in this philosophy - which travelled with the Alberses to BMC. A new, modern approach offered the promise of reconnecting with not only the things we use and surround ourselves with, but with our own humanity.⠀

BAUHAUS 100 and Materials, Sounds + Black Mountain College come together to tell the story of how modern approaches to design, art and craft reconnected us with the materials our world is made of. This philosophy has inspired artists and craftspeople to continue investigating the potential of these materials. We look forward to opening these two exhibition next Friday, June 7th and hope you'll join us for opening weekend (more info through the link in our bio). [http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/material-sound/ ]"

Image: Student Bill Reed's hands at the loom, Black Mountain College, ca. 1938–42. Photograph by Claude Stoller. @albers_foundation"
annilbers  craft  making  slow  small  process  bmc  blackmountaincollege  materials  manufacturing  modernism  consumerism  bauhuas  design  art  artmaking 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Ruth Asawa: Visual Arts (Sculpture) | PBS LearningMedia
"Watch Ruth Asawa as she and her family assemble an expansive retrospective of her wire sculpture work for the reopening of Golden Gate Park's de Young Museum in October 2005. In preparation for this exhibition, Asawa's daughter, Aiko Cuneo, has been busily collecting her mother's work as well as selecting a variety of drawings and preparatory works. Original air date: May 2005."
ruthasawa  2005  art  artists  blackmountaincollege  bmc  sanfrancisco  deyoung  aikocuneo  hands-on  hand-made  process 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Ruth Asawa, a Pioneer of Necessity
"Black Mountain College was not Ruth Asawa’s first choice. Determined to be an art teacher, she enrolled in Milwaukee State Teachers College from 1943 to ’46. She chose Milwaukee because it was the cheapest college in the catalog she consulted while she and her family were interned in the Rohwer Relocation Center, in Rohwer, Arkansas. However, when she learned that her fourth year was going to be devoted to practice teaching, and that no school in Wisconsin would hire someone who was Japanese, she decided to go to art school. The war might have been over, and the Japanese defeated, but the racism it engendered was still officially in place.

This is perhaps why she and her sister Lois took a bus trip to Mexico City, where she enrolled in a newly formed art school, La Escuela Nacional de Pintura y Escultura La Esmeralda. She also enrolled at the University of Mexico, where she took a class with Clara Porset, an innovative furniture designer from Cuba who had been at Black Mountain College in 1934 and studied with Albers. Through the influence of Porset, as well as that of Asawa’s friend Elaine Schmitt, whom she had met at the end of her freshman year in Milwaukee, Black Mountain College and Josef Albers emerged as a viable American option — a small, relatively isolated environment where she had at least one friend, Schmitt.

Asawa was 20 years old when she and her sister arrived at Black Mountain in the summer of 1946. On the way there, at a stop in Missouri, they did not know whether to use the “colored” or “whites only” bathroom. Like other Asians living in America at that time (and even now), she was both visible and invisible, not always knowing which way she would be regarded.

I thought about the road that Asawa took to Black Mountain College on her way to becoming an artist when I went to the exhibition Ruth Asawa at David Zwirner (September 13–October 21, 2017), her first with this gallery, which now represents her estate. Asawa — whose work was included in the traveling exhibition, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, organized by Helen Molesworth — is the latest postwar American artist to be rediscovered by an establishment still waking up to its racist and sexist biases.

In the summer of 1947, Asawa returned to Mexico and worked as a volunteer teacher in the town of Toluca. While she was there, she learned about the crochet loop, which the locals used to make wire baskets. The act of making a loop, or bundling wires together and tying them with a knot, is central to her work. The loop, done in profuse repetition, gave her the freedom to make a range of transparent forms and to contain other transparent forms within them. Many of these works she suspended from the ceiling. Conceivably they could grow to any size, limited only by the dimensions of the room in which they were suspended. There are a number of works done in this way in the exhibition, spheres and cones and teardrop shapes, often with another shape suspended within. I was reminded of soap bubbles stretching but not dispersing, of a form changing slowly and inevitably as it descended from the ceiling.

Made of woven wire, the sculptures oscillate between solidity and dematerialization, which is underscored by the shadows they cast. I think this aspect of the work should have been dramatized more. The strongest works are the ones made of a number of what artist called “lobes” and forms suspended within forms. When she weaves a wire sphere within a larger, similarly shaped form, it evokes a woman’s body, an abstract figure with a womb.

The sculptures with an hourglass shape underscore this association. But this connection can be extended further. In some of Asawa’s sculptures, an elongated tubular form periodically swells into a globular structure with a small spherical form cocooned inside. It is as if these are models for cells undergoing a transformation, generative organisms giving birth to a similar being. At the same time, because they are suspended, gravity is registered as an inescapable and relentless force, an invisible presence manifesting itself on the very structure of the sculpture’s body.

Through the act of weaving the artist has transformed wire — an industrial material — into a cellular structure, something both microscopic and organic. Paradoxically, the structure is a kind of armor, at once protective and vulnerable, with inside and outside visible at the same time.

In other classes of sculptures, of which there are fewer examples, Asawa bundled together wires, which she tied with a knot. These spiky constructions — which are like abstract root systems — were inspired by nature, as were the artworks Asawa made while a student at Black Mountain: small oil paintings on paper, a potato print, a work in ink on paper made with a BMC (Black Mountain College) laundry stamp.

These pieces are complemented by archival materials and vintage photographs of her and of her works taken by Imogen Cunningham. The presentation is beautiful and clean, which made me happy and yet bugged. The wall text at the entrance to the show cited the difficulties Asawa encountered because she was a “woman of color,” which to my mind dilutes what happened.

In all of the work, a simple action or form is repeated. Asawa took this lesson and made it into something altogether unique in postwar sculpture. She does not weld or fabricate. There is nothing macho about her work. Rather, she weaves; her practice, gender, and race cast a shadow over her initial reception in the 1950s in New York, when she had shows at the Peridot Gallery in 1954, ’56, and ‘58. She was a woman of Japanese ancestry making art in the years after World War II, which was a double whammy. In the Time magazine review of her first show at Peridot, the writer paired her exhibition with one by Isamu Noguchi. That same writer identified her as a “San Francisco housewife.” The Art News review of her 1956 show by Eleanor C. Munro characterized her this way:
These are “domestic” sculptures in a feminine, handiwork mode — small and light and unobtrusive for home decoration, not meant, as is much contemporary sculpture, to be hoisted by cranes, carted by vans and installed on mountainsides.

Looking at this exhibition, and thinking about Asawas’ persistence and generosity, I realized why Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has often bothered me. In that poem, read by nearly all American schoolchildren, the poet talks about taking the road “less traveled.” That is all fine and dandy if you have that choice. Asawa did not. More than once, she had to make a road where there was none. She was a pioneer out of necessity."
ruthasawa  art  artists  education  arteducation  2017  blackmountaincollege  bmc  mexico  sanfrancisco  sculpture  josefalbers  claraporset 
may 2019 by robertogreco
No. 360: Ruth Asawa, Angela Fraleigh – The Modern Art Notes Podcast
"Episode No. 360 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast features curator Tamara Schenkenberg and artist Angela Fraleigh.

Schenkenberg is the curator of “Ruth Asawa: Life’s Work” at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was a San Francisco-based artist who melded traditional craft practices with industrial materials to make some of the most distinctive sculpture of the twentieth century. The exhibition includes 80 works including sculpture, works on paper and collages spanning the start of Asawa’s career at Black Mountain College in western North Carolina through to the intricate and complicated ceiling-hanging works of her later years. It is the first museum exhibition of Asawa’s work in 12 years and the first away from the West Coast. The exhibition is on view until February 16, 2019. A catalogue is forthcoming from Yale University Press. Amazon offers it for pre-order for $40.

Angela Fraleigh is included in “The Un-Heroic Act: Representations of Rape in Contemporary Women’s Art in the U.S.” at the Shiva Gallery at John Jay College. The exhibition includes artists such as Kara Walker, Yoko Ono, Senga Nengudi and Suzanne Lacy and was curated by Monica Fabijanska. It is on view through November 2. On Wednesday, October 3, the Shiva will host an evening symposium related to the exhibition.

Fraleigh is a painter and sculptor whose work engages issues of desire and power. Her work is in the collections of the Kemper Art Museum in Kansas City and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston."
ruthasawa  2018  art  artists  bwc  blackmountaincollege  craft  labor  work  tamaraschenkenberg  angelafraleigh  weaving  knitting  crochet  identity  arteducation  education  activism  hands-on  rural  handmade  materials  simplicity  repetition  layering  wire  imogencunningham  buckminsterfuller  mercecunningham  movement  sculpture  farming 
may 2019 by robertogreco
david silver en Instagram: “Every time a new semester rolls up and I scramble to prepare another syllabus, I think of the wise words of Mary “Molly” Gregory, faculty…”
"Every time a new semester rolls up and I scramble to prepare another syllabus, I think of the wise words of Mary “Molly” Gregory, faculty of woodworking (and so much more) from 1941-47 at Black Mountain College. “How,” to paraphrase Molly Gregory, “can you design a course before getting to know your students and their skills?”"
davidsilver  blackmountaincollege  bmc  education  syllabus  cocreation  teaching  howweteach  marygregory  1940s  howwelearn  listening  maryemmaharris  syllabi 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Black Mountain College Museum en Instagram: ““FBI people showed up all the time, and they looked like something out of a grade B movie [...] They always had trench coats on, and you…”
“FBI people showed up all the time, and they looked like something out of a grade B movie [...] They always had trench coats on, and you could spot them a mile away [...] And of course the students at Black Mountain put on an act for them. One of the favorite student tricks was to not have shoes on in the middle of the winter, and to crunch out a cigarette butt with their bare feet … It confirmed their worst opinions, and we did not answer any of their questions.” -Dorothea Rockburne (Interview with Connie Bostic, 2002.)

...

This spring, the fascinating story of BMC's FBI investigation is coming out of the shadows (along with other pivotal moments in political history, including WWII, The Great Depression, and Jim Crow) The Politics of Black Mountain College, curated by Connie Bostic, Jon Ellison, Jay Miller and Alice Sebrell opens February 1st.

...

Image: Dan Rice and Robert Creeley at Black Mountain College photographed by Jonathan Williams."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  fbi  education  history  politcs  conniebostic  jonellison  jaymiller  alicesebrell  jimcrow  greatdepression  ww2  wwii  dorothearockburne  jonathanwilliams  danrice  robertcreeley 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Black Mountain College Museum en Instagram: “"Albers was a beautiful teacher and an impossible person. He wasn’t easy to talk to, and I found his criticism so excruciating and so…”
[Robert Rauschenberg on Josef Albers as his teacher at Black Mountain College]

"Albers was a beautiful teacher and an impossible person. He wasn’t easy to talk to, and I found his criticism so excruciating and so devastating that I never asked for it. Years later, though, I'm still learning what he taught me, because what he taught had to do with the entire visual world. He didn’t teach you how to do art. The focus was always on your personal sense of looking. When he taught watercolor, for example, he taught the specific properties of watercolor - not how to make a good watercolor picture. When he taught drawing, he taught the efficient functioning of line. Color was about the flexibilities and the complex relationships that color have with one another.
...
I consider Albers the most important teacher I've ever had, and I'm sure he considered me one of his poorest students. Coming from Paris, entering in the middle of the term, and showing all that wildness and naivety and hunger, I must have seemed not serious to him, and I don’t think he ever realized the it was his discipline that I came for. Besides, my response to what I learned from him was just the opposite of what he intended. When Albers showed me that one color was as good as another that that you were just expressing a personal preference if you thought a certain color would be better, I found that I couldn’t decide to use one color instead of another, because I really wasn’t interested in taste. I was so involved with the materials separately that I didn’t want painting to be simply an act of employing one color to do something to another color, like using red to intensify green, because that would imply some subordination of red. I was very hesitant about arbitrarily designing form and selecting colors that would achieve some predetermined result, because I didn’t have any ideas to support that sort of thing — I didn’t want color to serve me, in other words. That’s why I ended doing the the all-white and all-black paintings — one of the reasons anyway." (via @rauschenbergfoundation)"
bmc  blackmountaincollege  teaching  robertrauschenberg  josefalbers  howeteach  looking  seeing  color 
december 2018 by robertogreco
26 | Black Mountain College — Do Not Touch
"We're going back to school and learning about an arts college in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. For 24 years the college attracted famous teachers and produced students who would go on to achieve their own fame. I have two guests speaking to me about Black Mountain - Kate Averett from the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and Professor Eva Diaz from Pratt Institute."
bmc  2018  blackmountaincollege  bauhaus  annialbers  johndewey  art  arts  education  highered  highereducation  alternative  experimental  unschooling  deschooling  democracy  horizontality  evadiaz  kateaverett  history  arthistory  pedagogy  lcproject  openstudioproject  form  exploration  liberalarts  roberrauschenberg  willemdekooning  abstractexpressionism  howwework  discipline  self  identity  johncage  mercecunningham  self-directedlearning  self-directed  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  vision  cognition  expressionism  expression  music  dance  buckminsterfuller  technique  chance  happenings  anarchism  ego  spontaneity  unknown  improvisation  radicalism  transilience  northcarolina  transience  hippies  communes  integration  jacoblawrence  almastonewilliams  outsiders  refugees  inclusion  inclusivity  openness  gender  rayjohnson  elainedekooining  karenkarnes  dorothearockburn  hazellarsenarcher  blackmountaincollegemuseum  susanweil  maryparkswashington  josefalbers  charlesolson  poetry  johnandrewrice 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Black Mountain College: "The Grass-Roots of Democracy" - Open Source with Christopher Lydon
"Our guest, the literary historian Louis Menand, explains that B.M.C. was a philosophical experiment intent on putting the progressive philosopher John Dewey‘s ideas to work in higher education. The college curriculum was unbelievably permissive — but it did ask that students undertake their own formation as citizens of the world by means of creative expression, and hard work, in a community of likeminded people.

The college may not have lived up to its utopian self-image — the scene was frequently riven by interpersonal conflict — but it did serve as a stage-set to some of modern culture’s most interesting personalities and partnerships."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  rutherickson  louismenand  teddreier  theodoredreier  sebastiansmee  taylordavis  williamdavis  2016  robertcreeley  jacoblawrence  josefalbers  robertrauschenberg  annialbers  davidtudor  franzkline  mercecunningham  johncage  charlesolson  buckminsterfuller  johndewey  democracy  art  music  film  poetry  cytwombly  bauhaus  experientiallearning  howwelearn  education  johnandrewrice  unschooling  deschooling  schools  schooling  learning  howelearn  howweteach  pedagogy  christopherlydon  abstractexpressionism  popart  jacksonpollock  arthistory  history  arts  purpose  lcproject  openstudioproject  leapbeforeyoulook  canon  discovery  conflict  artists  happenings  openness  rural  community  highered  highereducation  curriculum  willemdekooning  small  control  conversation  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  mitmedialab  medialab  chaos  utopia  dicklyons  artschools  davidbowie  experimentation  exploration  humanity  humanism  humility  politics 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Escola Aberta
"Escola Aberta1,2 is:

a) autonomous b) reflexive c) temporary

1.The Escola Aberta will be a temporary design school based in Rio de Janeiro. Teachers and students of graphic design from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (Amsterdam) will conduct a week of workshops, lectures and activities, aiming to ignite a discussion on ways of teaching and learning and to establish an exchange of ideas with Brazil.

2. Directed at students, young professionals and artists, masters and apprentices, the Escola Aberta will be free of charge and take place from the 6th till the 11th of August, at the Carioca Design Center, Tiradentes square.

Escola Aberta1,2 will be:

a) free of charge b) in Rio de Janeiro
c) on August 2012 d) from monday to friday

1.Application deadline is 1st of July 2012. A total of 60 participants will be selected.
2. Please note that the Escola Aberta is unable to provide or organize any accommodation, board or transportation. Attendance is expected for the entire duration of the school, i.e. every day from Monday till Friday.

Escola Aberta1,2 seeks:

a) students e) craftsmen i) Brazilians
b) teachers f) artists j) foreigners
c) masters g) designers k) you
d) apprentices h) philosophers

1.The Gerrit Rietveld Academie is a dutch art and design academy, based in Amsterdam. It has grown to be a uniquely international school, open to applicants from all over the world. As a consequence an increased multicultural exchange of ideas, customs, knowledge and skills is cultivated. Particularly in the graphic design department the gap between teachers and students has become eminently narrow. This closeness ultimately opens up an intensified reciprocal exchange of opinions and ideals.

2.The Escola Aberta is looking for people with open minds, will for exchange, a questioning attitude and love for debate. Participants will be challenged to assume different roles during the week, to act as teachers and students, masters and apprentices, designers and artists. They must be able to switch from theory to practice and from protest to action.

T (true) or F (false):
( ) An art school, simply put, is a representative of the institutionalization of art.
( ) When our view of art is limited, so is our view of society.
( ) If questions aren’t asked in art schools, where then?
From Teaching to Learn by Joseph Kosuth, 1991.

Knowledge is something that:
a) You have to repeat and memorize, in order to get a diploma.
b) When in fact you need it, you can get it anywhere.

In 1971, conceptual artist John Baldessari was asked to exhibit his work at an art school in Nova Scotia. Since the school had no funds to fly him out for the installation, Baldessari sent a piece of paper printed with the words, ‟I will not make any more boring art,” and instructed the school to recruit students to write the sentence repeatedly all over the gallery walls, ‟like punishment.”

Art cannot be taught. However, one can teach _______________. The School is the servant of the _____________. One day the two will merge into one. Therefore, there are no teachers and pupils, but ________________ and ________________.
From the ‟Bauhaus Manifesto”, Walter Gropius, 1919.

“We do not need to consciously learn anything in order to learn something”. Do you agree? Explain. ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________
From Robert Fillou’s interview with John Cage in ‟Teaching and Learning as performing arts”.

Schools are:
a) on demand d) museums
b) commodities e) all of them
c) social events
School (from Greek “scholè”) means “free time”, being the time when people don’t have to act economically or politically. Within the domain of the school, neither accumulation and profit-seeking nor power games take center stage, but only the subject matter."

[via: https://walkerart.org/magazine/never-not-learning-summer-specific-part-1-intro-and-identities ]
brasil  brazil  lcproject  openstudioproject  altgdp  design  art  artschools  riodejaneiro  2012  ephemerality  ephemeral  autonomy  reflection  temporary  escolaaberta  bauhaus  bmc  blackmountaincollege  robertfillou  johncage  johnbaldessari  franklloydright  hermannvonbaravalle 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Oral history interview with Ruth Asawa and Albert Lanier, 2002 June 21-July 5 | Archives of American Art
"PK: How did you feel at the time? And I would ask you this as well, Albert. Would you give the Black Mountain experience as a kind of a watershed for you? Did something happen there? Was there an environment in which you did feel that, “Ah, this is heady stuff. We’re working with some new ideas, some new forms.” Did you feel that way about it?

RA: It probably felt as though we were ahead of the administration in that time. At that time we felt we were so beyond them.

AL: You mean as students? We were ahead of the people doing the teaching?

RA: Yes.

AL: I didn’t feel that. But go ahead.

RA: Well, we were encouraged to try out new things at that time.

AL: I think we felt that everything was possible. Everything was possible. Anything’s possible.

RA: And maybe it was our youth that gave us that feeling at that time. But we thought we were given permission to try out new things in terms of the way that . . .

PK: Materials?

RA: Materials. The things that the administration was trying to do. They were experimenting and we were also experimenting at the time. And we were so poor that we were taking materials that were around us and using leaves and rocks and things that were natural rather than having good paper and good materials that we bought. We had to scrounge around with things that were around us. And I think that was very good for us.

PK: And then the instructors there didn’t have that advantage, what you described as a kind of advantage. Since you didn’t have, you had to be more imaginative about what you could use.

RA: Yes.

PK: What you could bring together in your expression and maybe less tied to tradition.

RA: Well, it was through the teachers that we had who encouraged us to use things around us.

PK: Did most of the other students respond well to that freedom that they were offered?

AL: Some did and some didn’t. Some regarded [Josef] Albers as a Fascist, a dictator, because he didn’t react to or condone your feelings, “I feel this and I feel that.” He wasn’t terribly concerned with what we felt. He was concerned with what we saw and that we learned to see. And he would say, “If you want to express yourself do that on your own time. Don’t do it in my class.” He taught design, the same course, year-in-and-year-out. And it wasn’t Design 101, or Design 102, and Design 103. He taught the same course pretty much the same problems year-in-and-year-out. And we did the same things over and over again.

RA: The same problems had a deeper, deeper feeling, experience.

AL: This was continued with him, certainly all the time that he was at Black Mountain. And sitting here in this living room, he was about to be made head of the Design Department at Yale. But there it was about to be made a graduate school and he was very unhappy about that.

PK: Why?

AL: Because he said, “Design knows nothing about graduation. Art knows nothing about graduation.” He wanted those farm boys direct from the farm. He didn’t want them after they could spiel off all that they knew about art, which they might by the time they were in graduate school. He wanted them discovering it. That’s what he wanted. He really wanted us while we were still discovering things. That’s why I say that we had a feeling that everything was possible. And if you wanted to express yourself, and there were many that did, you either did it strictly on your own time or you dropped out of his classes because he did not go in for that.

PK: So he wasn’t one on faculty who gave that kind of permission, I gather, that you were talking about earlier.

AL: No, you had definite problems. You had definite problems and each student’s solution was discussed with the whole class. And very often you learned something from the comments of the rest of the class. They weren’t huge classes. If you didn’t bring something, you’ve got your problem, if you didn’t come back with something, you weren’t made very welcome. That’s freeloading."
ruthasawa  albertlanier  2002  interviews  bmc  blackmountaincollege  josefalbers  markjohnson  paulkarlstrom 
september 2017 by robertogreco
The Art of Teaching
[via: "The slide deck for the workshop is superb. Such a great experience, so grateful to @tchoi8 & the other participants." https://twitter.com/dphiffer/status/879465006449909760

referencing also: "How I learn to build things. Something I created for @tchoi8’s Art of Learning workshop at @eyeofestival."
https://twitter.com/dphiffer/status/879366496354488322 ]

[video: "Absence is Presence with Distance"
https://vimeo.com/234330230

"As an artist, I work with technology and narrative – formal and relational projects. As an activist, I examine personal and political – practice and praxis. As an educator, I create feedback between plastic and elastic – learning and unlearning. My talk is set at the dawn. We are waiting for the sun to rise and we are full of questions. What’s the role of an artist as an activist now? How can we critique oppressive systems that create the sense of ‘others’ based on ability and legal status? What’s kind of pedagogy can we experiment through alternative schools? How can we create a community among those who have nothing in common? By creating art, we can give form to our intentions, contribute to making the world we want to live in.

( For a companion posting to this talk visit:

https://medium.com/@tchoi8/absence-is-presence-with-distance-c0712aada56c )]
taeyoonchoi  education  teaching  purpose  routine  ritual  silence  flow  conflict  communication  structure  nurture  authority  kojinkaratani  jean-lucnancy  community  howweteach  pedagogy  learning  howwelearn  eyeo2017  unlearning  curriculum  syllabus  sfpc  schoolforpoeticcomputation  art  craft  beauty  utility  generosity  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  classideas  cv  reciprocity  gifts  kant  discretion  instruction  discipline  johndewey  bmc  blackmountaincollege  justice  annialbers  stndardization  weaving  textiles  making  projectbasedlearning  materials  progress  progressive  unschooling  deschooling  control  experimentation  knowledge  fabrication  buckminsterfuller  constructivism  constructionism  georgehein  habit  freedom  democracy  paulofreire  judithbutler  sunaurataylor  walking  christinesunkim  uncertainty  representation  intervention  speculation  simulation  christopheralexander  objectives  outcomes  learningoutcomes  learningobjectives  remembering  creativity  evaluation  application  analysis  understanding  emancipation  allankaprow  judychicago  s 
june 2017 by robertogreco
ORBITAL OPERATIONS: Weird Shit International - OO 14 May 17
"More recently, I learned of Black Mountain College, from one of Iain Sinclair's better latter-day books, AMERICAN SMOKE (UK) (US).  Black Mountain College interests me because it seems mostly metaphorical: it's the idea of a strange cross-contamination zone of a college. Even the name! More interesting to me than, say, the idea of a Hartlib Circle [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartlib_Circle ]
or Invisible College -- even though I'm a member of one or two of those, and run a private newsletter speaking to, in the immortal words of Charlie Stross, "the people, corporates, collectives, and bots I currently favor."  I like the invisible-college networks - information gets moved around, work gets done, contacts are maintained. But they are, by definition, not open. And all things good should (eventually) flow into the boulevard.

That's what this newsletter is, for me."

My friend Kyoko Kitamura sent me this recent quote from musician/composer Anthony Braxton:
"Each of you need to write about your music. "What are you doing?" "What do you think you are doing?" If you don't write about it, whatever you think you are doing, you might forget it. Maybe you need to sit down and ask the question "What am I doing?" and write it out...Me, I'm always taking notes on my system...Each of you, in my opinion, would do a very good thing by sitting down and asking yourself "What the f- am I doing? I say I like music, I'm not even sure if I like music, but maybe I do like music. What am I doing? Where am I going with it? Is it just about a gig?"...Each of us has to take that responsibility. That's a RESPONSIBILITY. If you're going to be broke and crazy, at least do your best. And part of doing your best is defining things in a way where it's possible to EVOLVE. If there's no clarity, if everything is murky, then you might not be using all of your forces in the best possible way depending on what you are looking at and depending on what you want for yourself...I would say, "Hey, don't be such a nice a person." You need to get angry about something... You need to remember that we don't live in heaven. THIS IS NOT HEAVEN. THIS IS COMPOSITE REALITY. It's much better than the concept of heaven. With composite reality, everything is happening. This is why you have to navigate through form. Part of navigation is including yourself and your life..."

The Weird Shit International. Black Mountain College. Everything is happening. Navigating from the Thames Delta."
warrenellis  blackmountaincollege  2017  iainsinclair  networks  invisiblecollege  hartlibcircle  newsletters  bmc  charliestross  collectives  howwelearn  howwmake  anthonybraxton  kyokokitamura  compositereality  responsibility 
may 2017 by robertogreco
David Byrne | Journal | A Society in Miniature
"How does one learn to think different?

The Tate show is wonderful, even if it only covers a smattering of Bob’s prodigious output. The curator, Achim Borchardt-Hume, met my friend and I, and we began to ask about the place where Bob spent some of his formative years, Black Mountain College, in western North Carolina, near Asheville. We were curious what sort of place would nurture the innovation and free thinking of someone like Bob, as well as that of host of other writers, artists, architects, composers and choreographers who passed through that place. Ultimately one wants to know, can that spark be re-ignited, in a contemporary way?

That tiny place in Asheville North Carolina seemed to possess some magic ingredient during its relatively short life—pre- and post-WWII—that produced an incredible number of ground-breaking creators in a wide range of fields. It almost seemed as if everyone who was touched by that place, by their experience there, went on to a have a major impact in the 20th century, and beyond.

It was established in 1933, during the depths of the economic depression, and by the time the war was in full swing the faculty included an amazing group of people. Here is a partial list: Josef and Anni Albers, he a teacher and artist from the Bauhaus in Germany, she a textile artist; Walter Gropius, the innovative German modernist architect; painter Jacob Lawrence; the painters Elaine and Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell; Alfred Kazin, the writer; Buckminster Fuller the writer and architect—he made his dome there in ‘48; Paul Goodman, the playwright and social critic and poet Charles Olson. Poet William Carlos Williams and even Albert Einstein eventually joined the staff, as well.

The students were a hugely influential and innovative bunch, too. As word spread others visited there during their summer sessions to create new work—in 1952, John Cage came down and staged his first "happening" here while students Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham assisted him with what later became known as performance art. There were painters Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Dorothea Rockburne, Ben Shahn, Franz Kline, film director (Bonnie and Clyde!) Arthur Penn, writer Francine du Plessix Gray and poet Robert Creeley.

What kind of place could attract and nurture this diverse group of people?

One can’t help but wonder if there was a formula and if the kind of radical innovation that happened there and that was carried out into the world can be repeated. What was that formula? Was it the teachers? The location? The philosophy? The students—the self-selected types who opted to try that kind of experiment?

Here are the basics of the school’s philosophy. John Rice, the founder, believed that the arts are as important as academic subjects:

1. There was less segregation between disciplines than what might find at a conventional school.
2. There was also no separation between faculty and students; they ate together and mingled freely.
3. There were no grades.
4. One didn’t have to attend classes. During break sessions the faculty trusted the students, and, as a result—without the top down rules—the students worked harder than during normal class times.
5. Here’s what now seems like a really radical idea—manual labor (gardening, construction, etc) was also key. Try that at Harvard!. No one had outside jobs; they they all chipped in to build the actual school and to help serving meals or doing maintenance. The schools finances were somewhat precarious, so this was an practical economical measure as well as being philosophical. In order to allow for these daytime activities and work, classes were often scheduled at night!

A Society in Miniature—Created by its Members

It was also believed that the school community should be a kind of miniature society and to that end it should be democratic and communal. Students were on the school board and they chimed in on hiring and all the other decisions. All of these things—the work, play and learning balance, the non separation of disciplines and the self determination—were believed by the founders to be equally important. Students, Rice believed, learned better through experience than from the passing on of rote information. It was not a top down kind of education—it was non-hierarchical in that sense—and one was encouraged to discover things for oneself. Not all students are cut out for this (some kids do need discipline!), but the ones that did thrived. Needless to say, that also meant that as a result collaboration, experimentation and work across disciplines was all encouraged. The idea was less to turn out clever academics, but rather to help students find themselves and become a “complete person”. You weren’t learning a trade, but learning how to think, how to collaborate and cooperate.

The overarching theme as I see it (but maybe not explicitly expressed) is that students—with the help of the faculty—were here to create a kind of society in miniature. THIS was the deep and rich experience that they would take with them—something far more profound than specific lessons in creative writing, engineering or color theory.

I asked the curator, Achim, if these new ideas about progressive education and their implementation were what was primarily responsible for the explosion of creativity in this tiny school. He said, yes, those factors were influential, but just as much were other factors—the fact that many of the faculty were refugees (those pesky immigrants!) from the rise of nationalism and intolerance going on in Europe at the time. So you had this influx of some of the best and the brightest. The little college reached out for talent and they came to this little tolerant oasis in the Smoky Mountains. Oddly they did not end up at the big name universities—they gravitated to the mountains of North Carolina. (Though later some did end up at Yale and elsewhere.)

Rice himself asked Josef Albers to create the arts curriculum (though Philip Johnson made the recommendation), as the Bauhaus was being shuttered as Nazi influence grew across Germany. Albers was key in mixing disciplines in the arts department; there was little distinction made between fine and decorative arts (Ani Albers made nice rugs), as well none between architecture, theater, music, dance and writing. A writer in the literature deparment developed the pottery program. I personally find Albers artwork boring, but as pedagogical aids (and demonstrations of how our eyes and brains work) they are gorgeous. There’s an interactive tablet app version of his course available now—lots of fun.

Rauschenberg was very receptive to Werklehre, Albers's teaching method that incorporated design elements. In his teaching, Alber used various non-traditional art materials like paper, wire, rocks and wood to demonstrate the possibilities and limits of those various materials. He would have his students fold paper into sculptures so that they might understand the three dimensional properties of what is ordinarily seen as two dimensional. He had them solve color problems by devising situations in which colors are perceived differently in different environments. For a comparison, this was not about learning oil painting techniques

Bob hated Albers—he was too didactic for Bob’s freewheeling sensibility. But to his credit, Albers realized his limitations and brought in others who were very different in sensibility than he and his wife. He allowed for difference. Bob too adapted, he recognized the value of the discipline that Albers espoused.

Achim pointed out that these innovative artists allowed the Black Mountain students to experience the most innovative ideas that had been emerging in Europe firsthand (see learning by experience above). They were getting this stuff before many others and in a more visceral way. Intolerance was draining the sources of innovation from large parts of Europe and they would find roots in this odd corner of the New World.

The place Asheville was and still is an island of open mindedness and tolerance in a state that is fairly conservative. Other southern colleges were still quite segregated, but Black Mountain bravely bucked that tradition. They admitted Alma Stone Williams, the first black student to attend an all white educational institution in the South. I’m going to propose that the atmosphere in Asheville might have helped to allow these things to happen; in other southern towns Ms. Williams would have been hounded and possibly driven out. (That said, some of the locals thought the school as all about wild behavior and orgies.) The school wanted to bring the (NY-based black) painter Jacob Lawrence to visit, but busses, as we know, were segregated at the time, so they had a car drive him all the way down from NY. Homosexuality was tolerated there, as well, which, given that word of this tolerance might have gotten out, all of this may have encouraged young men who didn’t fit in to attend this college—a place where they wouldn’t be viewed simply as perverts and freaks. In this too I’d argue that Asheville had a tolerant hand.

Bob continued to be active post Black Mountain, and, though we might consider the idea naive, he believed in the power of art to bring people together. His series of international collaborations—ROCI—produced some wonderful work, but maybe just as important, his presence in many countries kick started a whole generation of younger artists in those places around the world.

Is This a Model for Today?

Are you kidding? Yes, in all ways—in the collaborations and the innovative work, in the tolerance and welcoming of the persecuted and unappreciated. We need to look to this place and time as a model for today—and boy do we need it now more than ever!

Why should we emulate this? Well, because it works! The ideas that flowed out of this place changed the course of 20th century innovation in a wide range of fields, and the influence is still being … [more]
2017  davidbyrne  bmc  blackmountaincollege  via:austinkleon  sfsh  education  thinking  learning  society  pocketsofutopia  utopia  roberrauschenberg  anialbers  josefalbers  achimborchardt-hume  jacoblawrence  diversity  johnrice  segregation  integration  agesegregation  hierarchy  horizontality  grades  grading  bauhaus  refugees  werklehre  asheville  almastonewilliams  alberteinstein  inclusivity  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  johncage  process  tcsnnmy  progressive  johndewey  work  community  democracy 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Design Masters — Deborah Sussman on Vimeo
[via: http://jarrettfuller.tumblr.com/post/149188719257/fast-company-has-a-nice-interview-and-video ]

[See also: https://www.fastcodesign.com/3059969/the-woman-who-made-the-1984-olympics-into-a-legendary-design-event ]

"Before the world confused fame for mastery.

Before young designers were lost in the black hole of on-line portfolios and a million design sites.

Before the number of clicks and followers determined your worth, we used to learn about masters of design through their work on the street, in stores or through a small number of carefully curated design magazines and annuals.

Today, almost all of those magazines and annuals are gone.

But those masters were — and continue to be — the ones we look to for inspiration. Not only because of their remarkable work or enormous talents, but because of their tenacity — and an endless desire to reinvent themselves. The word "retire" never even crossed their mind.

These two short films represent the first of a series of conversations with such masters.

These two masters never ran dry on ideas or patience. Despite insanely busy schedules, they never turned us down, the inheritors of their craft. And we continue to be inspired by them every day. Today, our own hope is to expand upon the vision they established.

We thank ADC Hall of Fame laureates Deborah Sussman and Seymour Chwast for allowing us to create these brief portraits.

With over a century of experience between them both, they never put fame before mastery.

And in these films, it shows."

[The other film: Design Masters — Seymour Chwast
https://vimeo.com/166094009 ]
deborahsussman  design  blackmountaincollege  bmc  eames  eamesoffice  experience  craft  making  seymourchwast 
november 2016 by robertogreco
PodOmatic | Best Free Podcasts: Techlandia 97 - Unschooling w/ @rogre
"A chat with Roberto Greco about unschooling and other topics. Rob just finished up the year teaching at Hillbrook School in Los Gatos. He has a great take on how learners should learn, and uses this philosophy by unschooling with his own children. Austin Kleon was mentioning Rob on Twitter, so we are hoping that one of my heroes will listen to this episode. Crossing fingers!"
unschooling  cv  podcasts  teaching  davidtheriault  jonsamuelson  2016  ego  amyfadeji  bmc  blackmountincollege  leapbeforeyoulook  edg  srg  glvo  schools  education  progressive  blackmountaincollege 
july 2016 by robertogreco
No. 225: Helen Molesworth, Jennifer Raab | The Modern Art Notes Podcast
"Episode No. 225 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast features curator Helen Molesworth and art historian Jennifer Raab.

Molesworth’s “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957” is on view at the Hammer Museum through May 15. It is the first exhibition to examine Black Mountain College, an experimental, inter-disciplinary and immensely influential liberal arts college in the mountains of western North Carolina. The school attracted faculty and students from all over the world at a time when World War II was forcing significant global emigration, and thus provided a place where questions of globalism and the role of the artist in society were considered and furthered. Among the artists who spent time at Black Mountain and who are included in Molesworth’s exhibition are Ruth Asawa, Willem de Kooning, Josef and Anni Albers, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Ray Johnson, Jess and plenty more. Ninety artists are included in Molesworth’s show. The show’s outstanding, must-own catalogue was published by Yale University Press.

Molesworth is the chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Her previous exhibitions include “This Will Have Been,” which examined the impact of feminism on the art of the 1980s, and “Work Ethic,” which looked at how mostly 1960s artists merged everyday life with art-making.

On the second segment, art historian Jennifer Raab discusses her new book, “Frederic Church: The Art and Science of Detail.” The book examines how and why Church used unusually detailed passages in enormous paintings to engage contemporary debates about Union, nation and science. Raab teaches at Yale University."

[Direct link to SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/manpodcast/ep225 ]
helenmolesworth  jenniferraab  leapbeforeyoulook  bmc  blackmountaincollege  2016  art  curation  history  education  artseducation  liberalarts  diversity  highered  highereducation  progressive  progressiveeducation  learning  howwelearn  pedagogy  teaching  howeteach  inquiry  modernism  postmodernism  form  process  materials  via:jarrettfuller  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  collaboration  disciplines  ruthasawa  mercecunningham  josefalbers  theastergates  rebuildfoundation  lowresidencymfas  bardcollege  oberlincollege  vermontcollege  bhqfu  noahdavis  undergroundmuseum  mountainschoolofarts  andreazittel  greggbordowitz  artinstituteofchicago 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Maharam | Story | Anni Albers: Hardware
"In 1940, renowned Bauhaus weaver Anni Albers and student Alex Reed created a collection of jewelry from basic household items. They sourced materials from hardware stores and five-and-dime shops such as paper clips, bobby pins, erasers, wine corks, metal sieves, washers, and nuts. By utilizing these objects decoratively and formally, Albers and Reed created a collection of anti-luxury jewelry that proposed a new definition of value.

Albers and Reed first met at Black Mountain College, the legendary experimental art school located in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. The school offered a progressive liberal arts education that fueled the American avant-garde from 1933-1956. Collaborations between teachers, students, and visiting artists were encouraged and, accordingly, Albers and Reed worked and traveled together.

It was during their trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, that they encountered the pre-Columbian jewelry of Monte Albán. The thousand-year-old jewelry was composed of unusual material combinations of precious and non-precious elements—pearls and seashells, rock crystals and gold. To Albers and Reed, this jewelry offered an insight into the wisdom of material value.

Albers and Reed’s collection was born from this logic. They were able to approach material as elemental form, dissociated from its prior purpose. Later associations of industrial hardware as ornament can be found in the punk fashions of the 1970s and ’80s. But rather than seeking to subvert the status quo, the jewelry designs of Albers and Reed had their humble beginnings in the relics of Monte Albán—creating a collection that affirmed ancient aesthetics through forward-focused practicality."
annialbers  bmc  blackmountaincollege  hardware  jewelry  alexreed  materials  diy  classideas 
april 2016 by robertogreco
How John Cage made performance the true heart of Black Mountain College - LA Times
"A month after the New York Times had listed John Cage (along with Leonard Bernstein) as one of the six most promising young American composers, and just as Cage was starting to become an avant-garde celebrity in New York, he used his exceptional powers of persuasion to borrow a car from Sonia Sekula. The edgy Swiss Abstract Expressionist painter and the 35-year-old Cage happened to be neighbors in a Lower East Side tenement building that the composer had encouraged starving young artists to inhabit.

Cage thought it high time that he and dancer-choreographer Merce Cunningham drove across country to see how the West Coast, where they were both from, reacted to their radical ideas about music and dance. In April 1948, the pair set out for California in Sekula's jalopy.

The trip began with a five-day stopover at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. That visit doesn't merit more than an aside in the catalog of the Hammer Museum's exhibition "Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957." There is a lot of important territory to cover in the 24-year history of the uniquely influential liberal arts college where noted artists and thinkers held forth. Nor is there much in the way of decent documentation of the visit.

Cage had finished Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano, his most ambitious work up to this time and one for which he would finally be taken seriously as a composer and not be seen merely as the beguilingly inventive mastermind of musical novelties. A main motivation for heading west was an invitation to play Sonatas and Interludes at the Monday Evening Concerts series in Los Angeles.

But it was at Black Mountain where Cage gave the first public performance, if you want to call it that. This was Sonatas and Interludes at a makeshift concert in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on a makeshift stage with a modest piano and before an audience of the tiny college's student body and faculty. (If everyone showed up, at best 100 were on hand.)

The school couldn't afford to pay Cage and Cunningham — they taught as well as performed — but the morning they left, they found Sekula's car overflowing with artwork and food, the students' and faculty's expression of gratitude. Cage and Cunningham got something else, as well: an invitation to return and teach that summer.

They did, and thanks to Cage, neither Black Mountain nor American art would ever be the same.

By its nature, an art exhibition cannot fully convey what that meant or how Cage did it. "Leap" does not look away from the importance of music, dance, theater and literature at Black Mountain, and beginning Tuesday, the Hammer will make an eight-day leap into Black Mountain performance through concerts and lectures and dance performances.

Although visual art must understandably be a museum's core concern, there is validity to curator Helen Molesworth treating it as central to Black Mountain. Founded in 1933, the school was modeled after the Bauhaus in Germany, and the émigré German Bauhaus painter, pedagogue and color theorist Josef Albers guided Black Mountain through some of its early years.

Albers and his wife, textile artist Anni Albers, are as central to the exhibition as they were to the school. Because of the couple's great curiosity, they avidly explored a range of attitudes and cultures, which were shared throughout a school where students and faculty lived, ate, worked and socialized in an environment of inescapable conversation and inevitable argument. Molesworth captures this chattering zeitgeist by displaying carefully chosen artworks in such a way that they talk to one another.

What was all that chattering about? Attitudes toward music, Molesworth notes in the catalog, were one way to distinguish artistic differences at Black Mountain. Music, according to a Black Mountain brochure, represented "a world of inner order [that] can help toward developing that community for which we all toil." The noted Viennese violinist Rudolf Kolisch, invited in summer 1944 to take part in Black Mountain's celebration of Arnold Schoenberg's 70th birthday, taught a course called Democratic Principals of Ensemble Playing.

But it was Cage who advocated true democracy, which meant throwing a monkey wrench into such high-minded musical conceit, and Cunningham was the monkey.

Cage had become fascinated by Erik Satie, the then-obscure, feisty French composer who wittily defied the German deification of structural logic. In summer 1948, in response to the Schoenberg Festival four years earlier, Cage produced a Satie Festival that included a lecture defending Satie. He used the very ideals that Black Mountain professed to "oblige" German refugees to listen to his half-hour presentations of Satie's piano music for 25 consecutive evenings.

Creating an uproar

Cage's attitude was that Beethoven had been in error because he created music defined by harmony. Cage proposed following Satie's example of music defined on time lengths.

This defense was essentially personal. Cage always liked to say he had no gift for harmony, and here he hit home. Albers' pedagogic philosophy was that art didn't require talent as much as it did understanding and technique. But Cage, one of the most gifted musicians of all time, never felt comfortable with the harmony on which Western music was said to depend.

The defense of Satie created the expected uproar and led to a famous food fight among distinguished artists, the Beethoven camp armed with sausages, Satie-ists with crepes.

The climax of the festival was the staging of "The Ruse of Medusa," Satie's surreal farce with piano interludes called monkey dances, which featured, of course, Cunningham.

Buckminster Fuller, who attempted to build his first geodesic dome at Black Mountain that summer (he failed but succeeded the following summer), portrayed the nonsensical baron. A theater student, Arthur Penn (the future filmmaker), directed. Décor was by Willem and Elaine de Kooning, then young artists Cage had brought along to Black Mountain. A small acting role was assigned to student sculptor Ruth Asawa, whose works are among the highlights of "Leap."

The levity of "Medusa" lightened the atmosphere but in no way lessened Cage's challenges to the Black Mountain belief system. His target was not harmony but memory, the idea that for music to be followed you must be able to remember what came before. But what is necessary for Beethoven and Schoenberg is not for Satie. Cage wanted a contemporary art that reflects life as it was led. To the Black Mountain traditional modernists, and especially for the émigrés, memory must always be honored, one must never forget.

Rather than disremember, Cage simply called for action. He used performance to bring together a community of artists through their work without the compromise of collaboration. Essentially, Cage made "Medusa" an extension of breakfast. He and Cunningham began each morning at Black Mountain with Fuller, discussing ideas and telling stories about themselves. For Cage, memory wasn't a required prescription for consuming art but a deeper one for making it, bringing the experiences of many into the moment.

Four years later, in 1952, Cage returned to Black Mountain, and this time he staged what has become the most celebrated of all the college's activities. It wasn't called anything, just announced as a concert. There were entertainments of all sorts given almost daily, most often evening dances, excellent for letting off steam and fostering romances.

It was a strange summer for Cage. He was working on "Williams Mix," what came to be the first American piece of electronic music made by splicing recording tape. This had a Black Mountain association, having been commissioned by Paul and Vera Williams, who met and married as students there. Cage had intended to employ his students to help him with the laborious business of splicing tape. But the kids were too clever to be lured into that, and no one signed up for the class.

Instead, Cage hung out with them at meals, the dining hall being the principal place on campus for discussion. One morning the topic was French dramatist Antonin Artaud's ideas about theater reflecting the immediacy of experience, and Cage suggested making an illustrative theater piece to be performed that day using the resources of Black Mountain.

He asked artists to do their thing somewhat simultaneously. He quickly sketched out a layout with the audience surrounding the performers and created the timing for the participants. They were not told what to do, just where and when.

The poet Charles Olson read, probably on a ladder. Cage delivered a lecture he had written earlier for Juilliard. Cunningham improvised a dance. Avant-garde virtuoso David Tudor played something or other on the piano. Robert Rauschenberg, who had been a student of Albers, hung his white paintings and maybe a black one. There were projections of film and a painting by Franz Kline overhead.

This is widely credited as having been the first Happening and the inciter of performance art. Retrospectively it has been given the title "Theater Piece No. 1," although it is not an official part of the Cage catalog. Though a pack rat, Cage considered it such a classroom-casual event that he never even bothered to keep the "score." No one bothered to take a photograph.

And no one is sure exactly what happened at the first Happening. Witness accounts vary. An enormous literature has sprung about theorizing why that could be, what it all means and how we deal with a fleeting historic event we can't pin down. But Cage's revolutionary intention (or non-intention) was to defeat memory.

The participants couldn't remember because they were too focused on their own work. There had been no rehearsal, other than Cunningham testing the space so that he wouldn't accidentally kick someone. Not all artists are afforded the luxury of leaping before they look.

The lack of structure, moreover, meant it was impossible to take everything… [more]
bmc  blackmountaincollege  2015  johncage  history  eriksatie  mercecunningham  buckminsterfuller  soniasekula  education  democracy  annicalbers  josefalbers  helenmolesworth  leapbeforeyoulook  art  music  highered  highereducation  robertrauschenberg  happenings  williamdekooning  elaindekooning  arthurpenn  charlesolson  davidtudor 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
"Work with Material

Life today is very bewildering. We have no picture of it which is all-inclusive, such as former times may have had. We have to make a choice between concepts of great diversity. And as a common ground is wanting, we are baffled by them. We must find our way back to simplicity of conception in order to find ourselves. For only by simplicity can we experience meaning, and only by experiencing meaning can we become qualified for independent comprehension.

In all learning today dependence on authority plays a large part, because of the tremendous field of knowledge to be covered in a short time. This often leaves the student oscillating between admiration and uncertainty, with the well-known result that a feeling of inferiority is today common both in individuals and in whole nations.

Independence presumes a spirit of adventurousness—a faith in one's own strength. It is this which should be promoted. Work in a field where authority has not made itself felt may help toward this goal. For we are overgrown with information, decorative maybe, but useless in any constructive sense. We have developed our receptivity and have neglected our own formative impulse. It is no accident that nervous breakdowns occur more often in our civilization than in those where creative power had a natural outlet in daily activities. And this fact leads to a suggestion: we must come down to earth from the clouds where we live in vagueness, and experience the most real thing there is: material.

Civilization seems in general to estrange men from materials, that is, from materials in their original form. For the process of shaping these is so divided into separate steps that one person is rarely involved in the whole course of manufacture, often knowing only the finished product. But if we want to get from materials the sense of directness, the adventure of being close to the stuff the world is made of, we have to go back to the material itself, to its original state, and from there on partake in its stages of change.

We use materials to satisfy our practical needs and our spiritual ones as well. We have useful things and beautiful things—equipment and works of art. In earlier civilizations there was no clear separation of this sort. The useful thing, could be made beautiful in the hands of the artisan, who was also the manufacturer. His creative impulse was not thwarted by drudgery in one section of a long and complicated mechanical process. He was also a creator. Machines reduce the boredom of repetition. On the other hand they permit a play of the imagination only in the preliminary planning of the product.

Material, that is to say unformed or unshaped matter, is the field where authority blocks independent experimentation less than in many other fields, and for this reason it seems well fitted to become the training ground for invention and free speculation. It is here that even the shyest beginner can catch a glimpse of the exhilaration of creating, by being a creator while at the same time he is checked by irrevocable laws set by the nature of the material, not by man. Free experimentation here can result in the fulfillment of an inner urge to give form and to give permanence to ideas, that is to say, it can result in art, or it can result in the satisfaction of invention in some more technical way.

But most important to one's own growth is to see oneself leave the safe ground of accepted conventions and to find oneself alone and self-dependent. It is an adventure which can permeate one's whole being. Self-confidence can grow. And a longing for excitement can be satisfied without external means, within oneself; for creating is the most intense excitement one can come to know.

All art work, such as music, architecture, and even religion and the laws of science, can be understood as the transformed wish for stability and order. But art work understood as work with a substance which can be grasped and formed is more suited for the development of the taste for exploration than work in other fields, for the fact of the inherent laws of material is of importance. They introduce boundaries for a task of free imagination. This very freedom can be so bewildering to the searching person that it may lead to resignation if he is faced with the immense welter of possibilities; but within set limits the imagination can find something to hold to. There still remains a fullness of choice but one not as overwhelming as that offered by unlimited opportunities. These boundaries may be conceived as the skeleton of a structure. To the beginners a material with very definite limitations can for this reason be most helpful in the process of building up independent work.

The crafts, understood as conventions of treating material, introduce another factor: traditions of operation which embody set laws. This may be helpful in one direction, as a frame for work. But these rules may also evoke a challenge. They are revokable, for they are set by man. They may provoke us to test ourselves against them. But always they provide a discipline which balances the hubris of creative ecstasy.

All crafts are suited to this end, but some better than others. The more possibilities for attack the material offers in its appearance and in its structural elements, the more it can call forth imagination and productiveness. Weaving is an example of a craft which is many-sided. Besides surface qualities, such as rough and smooth, dull and shiny, hard and soft, it also includes color, and, as the dominating element, texture, which is the result of the construction of weaves. Like any craft it may end in producing useful objects, or it may rise to the level of art.

When teaching the crafts, in addition to the work of free exploring, both the useful and the artistic have to be considered. As we have said before, today only the first step in the process of producing things of need is left to free planning. No variation is possible when production is once taken up, assuming that today mass production must necessarily include machine work. This means that the teaching has to lead toward planning for industrial repetition, with emphasis on making models for industry. It also must attempt to evoke a consciousness of developments, and further perhaps a foreseeing of them. Hence, the result of craft work, work done in direct contact with the material, can come here to have a meaning to a far wider range of people than would be the case if they remained restricted to handwork only. And from the industrial standpoint, machine production will get a fresh impetus from taking up the results of intimate work with material.

The other aspect of craft work is concerned with art work, the realization of a hope for a lawful and enduring nature. Other elements, such as proportion, space relations, rhythm, predominate in these experiments, as they do in the other arts. No limitations other than the veto of the material itself are set. More than an active process, it is a listening for the dictation of the material and a taking in of the laws of harmony. It is for this reason that we can find certitude in the belief that we are taking part in an eternal order.

1937"

[Additiona sections:

"Work with Material [above]
Weaving at the Bauhaus
On Jewelry
Design Anonymous and Timeless
Material as Metaphor"]
josefalbers  annialbers  bmc  blackmountaincollege  1937  materials  craft  art  jewelry  bauhaus  timelessness  anonymity  metaphor 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Mapping BMC
"Crossroads and Cosmopolitanism at Black Mountain College chronicles the stories of fifteen students and teachers. Select any artist to begin their story."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  robertcreeley  robertrauschenberg  ruthasawa  mercecunningham  johncage  jeancharlot  josefalbers  margueritewildenhain  rayjohnson  rolandhayes  trudeguermonprez  willemdekooning  charlesolson  annialbers  buckminsterfuller 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Black Mountain: An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933 – 1957 by Eugen Blume, Matilda Felix, Gabriele Knapstein & Catherine Nichols (Eds.) | Ti Pi Tin
"Published by Spector Books (2015)
464 Pages, 24.0 x 18.5 cm, Paperback

The interdisciplinary and experimental educational ideas espoused by Black Mountain College (BMC), founded in North Carolina in 1933, made it one of the most innovative schools in the first half of the twentieth century. Visual arts, economics, physics, dance, architecture, and music were all taught here on an equal footing, and teachers and students lived together in a democratically organized community. The first rector of the school was John Andrew Rice, and Josef Albers, John Cage, Walter Gropius, and Buckminster Fuller were among the many adepts to give courses here. In consequence, BMC witnessed the development of a range of avant-garde concepts. This richly illustrated book appears in conjunction with the Black Mountain exhibition. It is the first comprehensive publication on BMC in the German-speaking world and traces the key moments in the history of this legendary school."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  education  books  eugenblume  matildafelix  gabrieleknapstein  catherinenichols 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 | icaboston.org
"A small, experimental liberal arts college founded in 1933, Black Mountain College (BMC) has exerted enormous influence on the postwar cultural life of the United States. Influenced by the utopian ideals of the progressive education movement, it placed the arts at the center of liberal arts education and believed that in doing so it could better educate citizens for participation in a democratic society. It was a dynamic crossroads for refugees from Europe and an emerging generation of American artists. Profoundly interdisciplinary, it offered equal attention to painting, weaving, sculpture, pottery, poetry, music, and dance.

ICA_BMC_perf_pro_download_350.jpgThe teachers and students at BMC came to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains from around the United States and the world. Some stayed for years, others mere weeks. Their education was unlike anything else in the United States. They experimented with new ways of teaching and learning; they encouraged discussion and free inquiry; they felt that form in art had meaning; they were committed to the rigor of the studio and the laboratory; they practiced living and working together as a community; they shared the ideas and values of different cultures; they had faith in learning through experience and doing; they trusted in the new while remaining committed to ideas from the past; and they valued the idiosyncratic nature of the individual. But most of all, they believed in art, in its ability to expand one’s internal horizons, and in art as a way of living and being in the world. This utopian experiment came to an end in 1957, but not before it created the conditions for some of the 20th century’s most fertile ideas and most influential individual artists to emerge.

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 focuses on how, despite its brief existence, BMC became a seminal meeting place for many of the artists, musicians, poets, and thinkers who would become the principal practitioners in their fields of the postwar period. Figures such as Anni and Josef Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Ruth Asawa, Robert Motherwell, Gwendolyn and Jacob Knight Lawrence, Charles Olson, and Robert Creeley, among many others, taught and studied at BMC. Teaching at the college combined the craft principles of Germany’s revolutionary Bauhaus school with interdisciplinary inquiry, discussion, and experimentation, forming the template for American art schools. While physically rooted in the rural South, BMC formed an unlikely cosmopolitan meeting place for American, European, Asian, and Latin American art, ideas, and individuals. The exhibition argues that BMC was as an important historical precedent for thinking about relationships between art, democracy, and globalism. It examines the college’s critical role in shaping many major concepts, movements, and forms in postwar art and education, including assemblage, modern dance and music, and the American studio craft movement—influence that can still be seen and felt today.

Organized by Helen Molesworth, the ICA’s former Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with ICA Assistant Curator Ruth Erickson, Leap Before You Look is the first comprehensive museum exhibition on the subject of Black Mountain College to take place in the United States. The exhibition features individual works by more than ninety artists, student work, archival materials, a soundscape, as well as a piano and a dance floor for performances, and it will be accompanied by robust performance and educational programs. It will premiere at the ICA/Boston and be on view October 10, 2015–January 24, 2016; it will then travel to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (February 21–May 15, 2016) and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (Sept. 17, 2016–Jan. 1, 2017)."

[Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9URP8GgSg5M ]
bmc  blackmountaincollege  2015  ica  boston  exhibits  leapbeforeyoulook 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Learn By Painting - The New Yorker
"What made Black Mountain different from other colleges was that the center of the curriculum was art-making. Students studied pretty much whatever they wanted, but everyone was supposed to take a class in some kind of artistic practice—painting, weaving, sculpture, pottery, poetry, architecture, design, dance, music, photography. The goal was not to produce painters, poets, and architects. It was to produce citizens.

Black Mountain was founded by a renegade classics professor named John Andrew Rice, who had been kicked out of Rollins College, in Florida. Rice believed that making something is a different learning experience from remembering something. A lot of education is reception. You listen to an expert explain a subject to you, and then you repeat back what you heard to show that you learned it. Teachers push students to engage actively with the material, but it’s easy to be passive, to absorb the information and check off the box.

Rice thought that this made for bad social habits. Democracy is about making choices, and people need to take ownership of their choices. We don’t want to vote the way someone else tells us to. We want to vote based on beliefs we have chosen for ourselves. Making art is making choices. Art-making is practice democracy.

Rice did not think of art-making as therapy or self-expression. He thought of it as mental training. As anyone who has tried to write a poem knows, the discipline in art-making is exercised from within rather than without. You quickly realize that it’s your own laziness, ignorance, and sloppiness, not somebody else’s bad advice, that are getting in your way. No one can write your poem for you. You have to figure out a way to write it yourself. You have to make a something where there was a nothing.

A lot of Rice’s ideas came from the educational philosophy of John Dewey (although the idea that true learning has to come from within goes back to Plato), and Rice was lucky to find an art teacher who had read Dewey and who thought the same way. This was Josef Albers. Albers had not been so lucky. He was an original member of the Bauhaus school, but when Hitler came to power, in 1933, the Bauhaus closed down rather than accept Nazi professors. Albers’s wife, Anni, was from a prominent Jewish family, and they were understandably anxious to get out of Germany. Rice heard about them from the architect Philip Johnson, and he sent a telegram to Albers inviting him and his wife to come teach at Black Mountain. The reply read: “I speak not one word English.” (Albers had read his Dewey in translation.) Rice told him to come anyway. Albers eventually did learn English, and he and Anni, an accomplished and creative weaver, established the mode of art instruction at Black Mountain. Everything would be hands-on, collaborative, materials-based, and experimental.

Bauhaus was all about abolishing distinctions between craft, or design, and fine art, and Black Mountain was one of the places where this aesthetic entered the world of American art. (Another was the Carnegie Institute of Technology, in Pittsburgh, where Andy Warhol went to college.) Albers’s most famous (although probably not his favorite) student at Black Mountain was Robert Rauschenberg, and Rauschenberg is the presiding spirit at the I.C.A. exhibition. Although goofier than most Black Mountain art—there is an earnestness about a lot of the work; this was schoolwork, after all—putting an automobile tire around a stuffed goat is the essence of Black Mountain practice.

Black Mountain College was a holistic learning environment. Teachers and students worked together; people who came to teach (and who stayed—not everyone found the work conditions to their liking) sat in on one another’s classes and ended up learning as much as the students. When a new building needed to be constructed, students and teachers built it themselves, just as, at the old Dewey School, at the University of Chicago, the children grew their own food and cooked their own meals.

It seems as though half the midcentury American avant-garde came through Black Mountain in one capacity or the other. The I.C.A. exhibition includes works by (besides Rauschenberg and the Alberses) Ruth Asawa, John Cage, John Chamberlain, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Robert Duncan, Buckminster Fuller, Shoji Hamada, Lou Harrison, Ray Johnson, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Charles Olson, Ben Shahn, David Tudor, and Cy Twombly. Black Mountain produced art of almost every kind.

Did it also produce good citizens? That’s an educational outcome everyone embraces but that’s hard to measure. In the case of Black Mountain, the sample size is miniscule, and most students left before graduating. There is also the self-selection issue. People who choose to attend progressive colleges are already progressive-minded, just as people who want a liberal education are usually already liberal (meaning interested in knowledge for its own sake), and people who prefer vocational or pre-professional education are already headed down those roads. College choice tends to confirm prior effects of socialization. But why keep those things separate? Knowing and doing are two sides of the same activity, which is adapting to our environment. That was Dewey’s point.

People who teach in the traditional liberal-arts fields today are sometimes aghast at the avidity with which undergraduates flock to courses in tech fields, like computer science. Maybe those students see dollar signs in coding. Why shouldn’t they? Right now, tech is where value is being created, as they say. But maybe students are also excited to take courses in which knowing and making are part of the same learning process. Those tech courses are hands-on, collaborative, materials-based (well, virtual materials), and experimental—a digital Black Mountain curriculum. The other liberal-arts fields might take notice. Arts practice should be part of everyone’s education, not just in preschool."
blackmountaincollege  bmc  2015  louismenand  johndewey  democracy  practice  experience  education  tcsnmy  progressive  progressivism  art  arts  highered  highereducation  collectivism  learning  unschooling  deschooling  bauhaus  johnandrewrice  making  creativity  josefalbers  annialbers  craft  design  robertrauschenberg  collaboration  ruthasawa  johncage  mercecunningham  buckminsterfuller  willemdekooning  robertduncan  johnchamberlain  robertcreeley  shojihamada  louharrison  rayjohnson  franzkline  jacoblawrence  robertmotherwell  charlesolson  benshahn  davidtudor  cytwombly  kennethnoland  elainedekooning  liberalarts  technology 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Return to Black Mountain College - WSJ
"“Black Mountain is a myth, but it was mythic in its inception,” says Helen Molesworth, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, who is organizing the first major American museum show to examine the school’s legacy, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933–1957, opening this month at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. “The people who made it had a lofty sense of what they were doing before it even started. They were trying to form a better world.” The exhibition will feature work by nearly 100 artists. Along with stars like the architect Walter Gropius and the Alberses, it includes figures like the sculptor Ruth Asawa, the collagist Ray Johnson and the funk potter Peter Voulkos, together with scores of photos and archival materials, as well as dance and music performances held within the galleries.

Other 20th-century art luminaries passed through the college too, including the abstract expressionists Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline, Russian-born WPA muralist Ilya Bolotowsky and Jacob Lawrence, the African-American painter whose Great Migration pictures were the subject of a recent MoMA retrospective, all drawn largely by Josef Albers’s allure. From the start, “Albers had an international reputation, and so did the college,” says Alice Sebrell, program director of the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center in nearby Asheville, which was founded in 1993 to honor the school. “He was very open to artists whose work was different from his own. The whole package was appealing to artists who were doing non-mainstream work.”

From today’s vantage point, the reality of Black Mountain College as a crucial nexus for artistic, intellectual and even political activity is coming into sharp focus. Artists, scholars, educators and curators are increasingly recognizing that its unique environment was essential to the flowering of midcentury American art and culture, a place where the avant-garde of Europe and the United States came together and created something new. The past year has seen another major show, Black Mountain: An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933–1957, at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof, which explored the creative contributions made by German refugee artists and intellectuals who converged at the school during the Nazi era. A new book, The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College, was published last December.

“Today Black Mountain seems so avant la lettre, so proto-Beat, proto-hippie, so completely off the known of the region but also of the nation,” says Eva Díaz, the book’s author. In a contemporary art world riveted by the idea of experimentation, she adds, “Black Mountain is often invoked as a touchstone.”

The school’s interdisciplinary outlook is like catnip to curators and academics because it anticipated the current interest in performance art, craft and design. Artists are fascinated by it too: “There’s a growing need for us to be socially engaged, to want an interaction with a larger aspect of society,” says photographer and sculptor Sara VanDerBeek, whose father, the experimental filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek, studied at the college from 1949 to 1951. “That’s in keeping with the things they were discussing and engaging in at Black Mountain.”"



"“The teachers who were at Black Mountain were there because they really believed in freedom and education,” says abstractionist Dorothea Rockburne, who heard of it as a teenager in Montreal and began saving money to attend, which she finally did, from 1950 to 1954. She took science with the physicist Goldowski, but her most profound connection was with the German mathematician Max Dehn, with whom she studied topology, linear algebra and Euclidean geometry.

Part of what made Black Mountain special was the mix of disciplines, the intensity and the fact that everyone was together so constantly in the remote location. “We were all foreigners, so to speak, in that setting,” says Theodore Dreier Jr. (the son of the co-founder), who studied music there before transferring to Harvard, later becoming a psychiatrist. “It enhanced that kind of participatory, creative openness.”

The college was never accredited, largely because the founders wanted to remain independent from outside influences. Its largest class was 100, and only 66 students ever graduated. But great teaching was always the byword. Although the constantly evolving curriculum always included classroom instruction, Rockburne recalls that most of Dehn’s teaching “took place on our morning walks to the waterfall five days a week. He would explain to me the mathematics of nature,” pointing out examples of probability theory and Fibonacci progression as they occurred in plants. “I always had the sense that my teachers were living for me.”

By 1941, just before the United States joined the war, the school had raised the money to buy its own lakeside campus. It moved after the faculty and students had spent a year and a half constructing a two-story, 202-foot-long, streamlined modernist compound known as the Studies Building. When its summer art and music sessions, initiated by Albers, began in 1944, a dizzying array of instructors arrived, including the art critic Clement Greenberg, the choreographer Agnes de Mille, the gamelan composer Lou Harrison and the photographer Harry Callahan—most long before they became well known."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  2015  carolkino  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  art  education  schools  unschooling  deschooling  democracy  freedom  autonomy  learning  history  robertrauschenberg  johncage  johnandrewrice  rollinscollege  highered  highereducation  stanvanderbeek  saravanderbeek  mercecunningham  jeromerobbins  josefalbers  bauhaus  communes  cytwombly  annialbers  buckminsterfuller  helenmolesworth  robertmotherwell  jacoblawrence  franzkline  ilyabolotowsky  alicesebrell  theodoredreier  jonathanwilliams  walking 
october 2015 by robertogreco
CLASS DISMISSED: A ROUNDTABLE ON ART SCHOOL, USC, AND COOPER UNION by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Helen Molesworth, Mike Essl, Jory Rabinovitz, Lee Relvas, Amanda Ross-Ho, Victoria Sobel, Frances Stark, A. L. Steiner, Charlie White - artforum.com / in print
[via: https://twitter.com/CaseyG/status/652215259235807232 ]

"IN AN ERA when creative economies are leading the hypermonetization of every aspect of life, from attention and identity to privacy and time, it’s not surprising that this country’s most progressive models of art education are under attack. In fact, the liberal arts and humanities are besieged across the board, increasingly expected to justify their funding, even their very existence, in universities and beyond. We are witnessing a massive cultural shift when we see the corporatization of higher education—with its top-down power structures, bloated bureaucracies, “synergistic” partnerships with the private sector, relegation of faculty to contingent adjunct labor, and reliance on students as revenue streams—spiking tuition costs and sending student debt ballooning.

All this has come dramatically to a head this past year on both coasts, at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York and the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design in Los Angeles. It is sadly predictable and all the more alarming that the ever-accelerating process of financialization should upend two of the most vital art schools in America, each of which has been based on the endangered premise of a tuition-free or fully funded education. While the specific circumstances and institutional histories make the nature of each crisis distinct, they both betray the wrenching cultural shifts produced by a head-on collision with the technocratic crusaders of contemporary capitalism.

Following its board of directors’ decision to abandon Cooper Union’s tuition-free mandate, which had stood for more than 150 years, the school’s president and five trustees resigned amid an ongoing inquiry into the institution’s finances by the New York State Attorney General. The grassroots Committee to Save Cooper Union has taken legal action to preserve the venerable institution’s founding mission of free education, and to call attention to the fiscal mismanagement and lack of accountability on the part of the school’s board of trustees. [Eds. note: As this issue was going to press, the Attorney General announced that a settlement had been reached and that Cooper Union would work to eventually reinstate free tuition.] At USC Roski, the drastic restructuring and reduction in funding for the school’s renowned graduate program by a new dean’s administration prompted high-profile, tenured faculty to resign in protest and the entire MFA class of 2016 to drop out en masse earlier this year, citing unacceptable changes to funding packages, curriculum, and faculty.

Debates over art education have a long history, of course. A groundbreaking and utopian model that remains relevant today is Black Mountain College, which nurtured cultural and pedagogical innovation at mid-century and which is the subject of a major exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, opening on October 10. Artforum invited the show’s curator, HELEN MOLESWORTH, to join eight distinguished participants—from Cooper, faculty MIKE ESSL and alumni JORY RABINOVITZ and VICTORIA SOBEL; and from USC Roski, current or former faculty members FRANCES STARK, CHARLIE WHITE, and A. L. STEINER; alumna AMANDA ROSS-HO; and LEE RELVAS, one of the seven class-of-2016 students who dropped out—to discuss the current situation at both institutions and the histories, challenges, and continued promise of art school."



"HELEN MOLESWORTH: We’ve convened today to talk about the current crises at USC and Cooper, both of which are symptoms of larger problems facing the entire concept of art education in this country. And for many schools today, Black Mountain College remains a key model for art education after World War II.

In the face of this crisis, Black Mountain is even more relevant to the current situation than one might think: It was a program born of extraordinary optimism, but it was also born of dissent, born of a firing of tenured faculty, born of a group of teachers and students deciding that they needed to own the means of production themselves and create an institution in which there were no trustees or board of regents, so they could collectively control the college. It had an extraordinary efflorescence and was a wellspring of the American avant-garde; the curriculum at BMC influenced many of the practices that define contemporary studio and liberal-arts programs—group critiques, collaboration, interdisciplinarity. It also failed beautifully and wonderfully and spectacularly at its end: It was short-lived, running only from 1933 to 1957.

Which leads me to the most basic and perhaps the most unanswerable question: Why now? Why are extremely successful, renowned arts-education departments on both coasts under attack in the way that they are at Cooper and USC? Are they—and Black Mountain—anomalies, experiments that could never last? Or are they victims of some of the nastiest tactics of our neoliberal new economy?"



"LEE RELVAS: I’m one of the seven MFA students who just dropped out from USC. We dropped out collectively to protest the school’s reneging on funding and curricular promises made to us, because that funding model and pedagogical model were clearly no longer considered valuable under the new dean’s leadership. But we also wanted to protest publicly the economics of higher education: namely, the normalization of massive student debt.

We range in age from twenty-seven to forty-one years old. So we actually did know what we were getting into as far as the debt that we thought we were going to be taking on, as well as the lack of teaching opportunities, and if we were so lucky to get a teaching job, how little most of those teaching jobs paid.

But we still wanted two years of time and space to be artists and thinkers and to be in close conversation with each other. And outside these flawed institutions, there is little material and cultural support for that."



"HELEN MOLESWORTH: In New York, do you have a similar sense that the faculty and the students at Cooper were unable to articulate the value of free tuition to the board?

MIKE ESSL: I think we did articulate it but we weren’t heard, and it was all the more disturbing to me because of my own personal understanding of that value. My dad is a mechanic and my mom is a bookkeeper. They didn’t go to college and they didn’t save for college, and me going to college was just never on their radar. And Cooper Union gave me permission to go to art school. Without that freedom, without being able to tell my parents essentially to fuck off, I don’t know where I would be now. [Laughter.]

And what that does for, say, a lower-middle-class student, that permission, the way it lowers the risk of art school and allows you to even conceive of going, is something that the board of trustees did not care about at all.

We would hear about how the cost of teaching artists is too expensive and that when artists graduate they don’t donate, and there was really no consideration of the artist as a person in the world at all. And so for those people to be the board members of a school like Cooper Union, I would argue, is criminal. They just refused to hear any arguments.

JORY RABINOVITZ: There was no dialogue, no transparency. There was never any mention of charging tuition while I was at Cooper. I started when the demolition of the Abram S. Hewitt Memorial art building, and the construction of the new Thom Mayne–designed academic center, 41 Cooper Square, in its place, was just beginning. The three-year transition phase completely displaced the art school and literally split it in two, sending half of the classes and studios to a rented building in Long Island City. Since the art school donated the least and protested the most, it really felt like we were being singled out to receive this weird form of punishment or austerity measure. Many of the school’s questionable financial decisions that are currently under investigation happened at the very same time. So when I look at the new building, it’s hard not to see a big perforated smoke screen.

MIKE ESSL: They showed up at the table already having decided that our model was old-fashioned and could no longer be supported. Which is why we have been saying all along that it’s a cultural problem, not an economic one."



"A. L. STEINER: Eighty percent of USC’s faculty is now adjunct and contingent. This is part of an ideology of austerity being embraced at the school, even though its undergraduate program ranks sixteenth in tuition nationwide and the university is one of twenty schools nationwide responsible for one-fifth of the country’s graduate-school student debt. The dean’s thinking came down to a gamble—that the graduate faculty’s interactions, and the program’s funding and curricular promises, were unnecessary. There’s a bigger agenda in play, and it’s intertwined with the value and significance of an arts education in a technocratic regime, in a world where the nonprofit sector exists as a manifestation of the private sector."



"FRANCES STARK: But you have to consider that in context. I was on the search committee for the new dean in the spring of 2013, and the problem of financial sustainability was not explicitly on the table when we were interviewing candidates. The entire process seemed perfunctory: It became clear that the interim dean was the internal candidate they wanted, and who, it was later disclosed, was somehow attached to the $70 million gift from Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre to endow a new school of “Art, Technology and the Business of Innovation” at USC. Erica Muhl, who became dean, has zero background in contemporary fine art, design, or art history. She is not conversant with these fields at all. I asked her, “What is your vision for the school?” And she responded, “To be number one.” No joke. OK? She told the graduate students: “The future of art is Mark Zuckerberg… [more]
cooperunion  blackmountaincollege  usc  art  arteducation  education  highered  highereducation  helenmolesworth  mikeessl  joryrabinovitz  leerelvas  amandaross-ho  victoriasobel  francesstark  alsteiner  charliewhite  sarahlehrer-graiwer  via:caseygollan  activism  neoliberalism  capitalism  politics  conversation  proximity  ambiguity  joy  meritocracy  organizations  institutions  bmc  arts  humanities  schools  tcsnmy  progressive  technocracy  artseducation  culture  thinking  optimism  bauhaus  calarts  community  pedagogy  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn 
october 2015 by robertogreco
In the Spirit of Black Mountain College, an Avant-Garde Incubator - The New York Times
"The school closed in 1957, some years after Albers left to direct the first design department at Yale. But since 1993, another experimental institution, the Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center, has kept its flame alive. In a storefront in downtown Asheville, a short drive from the old campus, it organizes talks, exhibitions, performances and an annual fall conference in which scholars (and sometimes practicing artists) examine the college’s legacy.

This spring the museum is also embarking on an expansion that will more than double its current size, to 2,900 square feet. The original gallery space, remodeled to incorporate a study center, reopened in January with a show covering 30 decades of “poemumbles” (daily poems and drawings) by a Black Mountain alumna, the painter Susan Weil. In June the museum plans to open a new gallery space across the street with a historical exhibition, “Something Else Entirely,” which will examine the making of the 1965 Fluxus mail-art book “Paper Snake,” by Ray Johnson, another former student, using films and some collages that have never been shown before.

“We try to have one foot in the past, honoring what happened at the college,” said Alice Sebrell, the museum’s program director, who runs the institution with a staff of two and a few interns. “But we also keep one foot very much in the present, looking to the future and what ideas artists are investigating today.”

The larger space “will enable us to do more,” she added, including educating visitors, providing easier access to the center’s archives and mounting more shows from the permanent collection. (The collection ranges from correspondence and dance performance programs, to historical gems like a desk designed by Albers for the students, to new artwork made by Black Mountain alumni, “because we don’t want to freeze anyone in time,” as Ms. Sebrell put it.) Both spaces were built and designed by an Asheville-based artist, Randy Shull, who drew inspiration from Black Mountain’s Modernist utilitarian aesthetic, maintaining the old scuffed, paint-stained floors; creating shelves and bookcases from double layers of plywood; and using repurposed Southern yellow pine as a unifying trim.

The idea for the museum arose when its founder, Mary Holden Thompson, who had grown up nearby, moved to Paris and discovered that the name Black Mountain was far more revered there than in North Carolina. Conceived as a corrective, the institution was nomadic for its first decade, publishing an annual “dossier,” or catalog, on someone who had taught or studied there and mounting a show in the Asheville area.

After acquiring a permanent space in 2003, the museum began a regular exhibition program, with shows focusing on subjects like Black Mountain’s design and craft legacy and the many important female artists who once studied there, including the sculptor Ruth Asawa and the Abstract Expressionists Pat Passlof and Elaine de Kooning.

Over the years, as more archival materials have become available and museums have organized more surveys of work by Black Mountain faculty members and students, interest in the college and its legacy has grown (A new show, “Black Mountain: An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933-1957,” opens at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin on June 5). But as time passes, the museum strives to maintain a sense of growth and experimentation — central to Modernism and the school’s ethos — without cultivating nostalgia.

“We keep trying to find ways to channel that spirit,” said J. Richard Gruber, the chairman of the museum’s board, by asking, “What would Black Mountain and its artists be doing today?”

One example of faithfulness to that spirit is the annual (Re)Happening, invoking Cage’s long-ago event and now in its sixth year. This year’s extravaganza, a seven-hour program to be held on April 4 at the site of the college’s final campus, at the nearby Lake Eden, will involve nearly 80 people and 29 events, most of them multidisciplinary and many taking place simultaneously.

There will be performances by the New York cult thereminist Dorit Chrysler, as well as the Los Angeles-based keyboardist and composer Aron Kallay. Two Tennessee artists, McLean Fahnestock and Michael Dickins, will project NASA footage of space shuttle takeoffs onto trees for the project “Rocket Launch.” And the media artist Andrew Lloyd Goodman, who teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design, will present an interactive event involving his Light Hammer device, which produces images by using a hammer to trigger a camera shutter.

“It’s sort of a sprawling event,” Ms. Sebrell said. “You can’t do it all.

“We just imagine what a Saturday night at Black Mountain College must have been like, and transport that notion to the current year.”"
2015  bmc  blackmountaincollege  museums  history  art  education 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Jen Delos Reyes | Rethinking Arts Education | CreativeMornings/PDX
[video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXWB7A1_zWA ]

"On the complex terrain of arts education today and expanded ways of valuing knowledge.

What should an arts education look like today? Can education change the role of artists and designers in society? How does teaching change when it is done with compassion? How does one navigate and resist the often emotionally toxic world of academia? With the rising cost of education what can we do differently?

Bibliography:

Streetwork: The Exploding School by Anthony Fyson and Colin Ward

Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope by bell hooks

Education Automation: Comprehensive Learning for Emergent Humanity by Buckminster Fuller

Talking Schools by Colin Ward

Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Sister Corita Kent and Jan Steward

The Open Class Room by Herbert Kohl

Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

Why Art Can’t Be Taught by James Elkins

Education and Experience by John Dewey

Freedom and Beyond by John Holt

Notes for An Art School edited by Manifesta 6

Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community by Martin Duberman

Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner

We Make the Road By Walking by Myles Horton and Paulo Friere

Education for Socially Engaged Art by Pablo Helguera

Rasberry: How to Start Your Own School and Make a Book by Sally Rasberry and Robert Greenway

This Book is About Schools edited by Satu Repo

Art School: (Propositions for the 21st Century) edited by Steven Henry Madoff"
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january 2015 by robertogreco
I Had A Scheme | MORNING, COMPUTER
"Last night I dreamed of being able to curate a hub on Medium that was nothing but the confluence between the apocalyptic, the technological, the numinous, the archaic and the future. A Black Mountain College of the next new normal. Which is basically the space I’m thinking within all the time right now. I’m feeling very apocalyptic. I’m feeling like I want to explore it. In 1968, the year I was born, NEW WORLDS magazine ran a cover that contained a black-on-near-black graphic and the white text WHAT IS THE EXACT NATURE OF THE CATASTROPHE? The answer is both ahead and behind. Half of my brain is in deep time at present. I have a book on my shelf entitled APOCALYPTIC WITCHCRAFT.

“The Wild Hunt as living experience” is a phrase on the back cover.

(God, what if it’s just The New Hauntology? “We are as ghosts and might as well get good at it.”)

I’m a little worried about turning into the ghost of Terence McKenna and rattling on about The Archaic Revival for the rest of my days.

Anyway. I woke up and I was still poor, so I know it was a dream."

[Post referenced here too: http://morning.computer/2014/10/the-university-of-disaster/

"“Science itself is on the verge of a systemic crash, a philosophical coma. In the face of this crash, I suggested creating a “university of disaster”…”

That’s from THE ADMINISTRATION OF FEAR by Paul Virilio. Connects to “a Black Mountain College of the next new normal.” Imagine if the Health Goth look became, in response to First World Ebola, the street-level iteration of the medieval “plague doctor” look, jumping right past cheap hazmat suits. Extinction Symbol connects to Health Goth by its stark black-on-white nature. The symbol leaps out at you on streets, but may not look so out of place in hospitals. Rewilding becomes a reaction, not an active response, to First World Ebola because the African hot zone where this latest outbreak originates is so wild and unmanaged that WHO has to state that its infection stats should be speculatively multiplied by three, due to the simple fact that they can’t get reportage out of a significant chunk of the region. You may indeed want to go back to the woods when our cities become viral incubators, but that really just means that nobody will know who you’re spreading diseases to. The cities are where the medical care is. Unfortunately, people fly into them from all over the place, and so Bruce Sterling’s notion that cities will be filled with old people who are afraid of the sky takes on a whole new meaning. And suddenly we’re living in the old BBC tv series SURVIVORS from 1975, a prime year in classical British hauntology.

Someone just prototyped a litmus paper test for Ebola over the weekend. Virilio contends that “speed” is the defining element of the present-day condition. Speed as agency of fear.

Still just thinking out loud here."]
warrenellis  2014  bmc  blackmountaincollege  1968  witchcraft  hauntology  magic  petergrey  terenecemckenna  paulvirilio  extinction  speed  fear  ebola  rewilding 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Life and Work of an Institution of Progressive Higher Education: Towards a History of Black Mountain College, 1933-1949 by Jonathan Fisher | BMCS
"This ambitious new democratic structure for the administration of a college was unique to BMC, and to my knowledge has not been repeated on such a scale since. It would mean that teachers, in addition to their classroom and other responsibilities on campus, would also be taking on administrative tasks like bookkeeping, fundraising, hiring of new faculty and student admissions on a rotating basis. This commitment to a radically more democratic organizational structure for the new Black Mountain College would last until the bitter end, despite a list-ditch effort led by Dreier and Albers to alter it in the late 1940s. This attempt ultimately led to the Board of Fellows voting to remove Dreier, who had been on an extended leave of absence, in 1948. Josef and Anni Albers would leave the following year. But it was this radically democratic structure that would attract some of the world’s most visionary artists and teachers to this tiny town in rural Western North Carolina for more than two decades. It was also this structure which would allow the BMC community to move forward on issues of racial integration in the 1930s and ‘40s—decades before such attempts would be made at larger, more established colleges in the southeastern United States. It was ultimately John Dewey’s principles of progressive education that were at the foundation of these radical organizational structures, which were adopted by BMC’s founders.

During the first five years of Black Mountain College’s existence, things went remarkably smoothly. Of course finding enough money was always a problem. It was the height of the Great Depression in the United States and despite Rice, Dreier and Albers’ best efforts, BMC had never managed to secure more than minimal financial support for their new experimental progressive institution. A budget drawn up by Dreier in the first year of BMC totaled $32,000, with staff salaries totaling less than $2000, excluding Albers’ salary of $1000 annually, which was supported separately by an individual benefactor (Duberman, 1972, p.71). In these early years there were none of the scandals or disputes that would plague the community later on in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Furthermore, the college’s system of governance appeared to be working. And efforts at self-sustainability were taken on unflinchingly. A student-run cooperative store was set up on campus as well as a print shop and a cottage school for the community’s youngest members (ibid.). In addition to their academic work, students engaged in projects ranging from the staffing of the various cooperative enterprises set up on campus, to the manufacture of bookshelves, curtains and other furnishings for campus buildings. These activities helped supplement the goods available to them on the campus they were leasing from a Christian group, which used it for a summer camp for just a few months each year.

Among the highlights of these early years of the college were two visits by John Dewey, who in 1936 began serving officially as a member of BMC’s Advisory Council. Both of Dewey’s visits took place during the 1934-35 school year. It is unclear from the correspondence in the North Carolina Archives whether or not Dewey ever visited the campus again. But these two early visits set a precedent, which caused BMC faculty—especially Rice and Dreier— to request future visits, which always seem never to have quite worked out (e.g. Dreier [to Dewey] April 6, 1938; Dewey [to Dreier] April 13, 1938). In one of the oldest Dewey letters in the BMC General Collection of the North Carolina Archives, which is handwritten on Columbia University Department of Philosophy letterhead, Dewey expresses his regrets at not being able to pay Rice and the others at BMC a visit during the fall of 1936. He writes of postponing his planned visit until the spring, “when I hope to see the countryside and the flowers at their best” (Dewey [to John Rice] October 29, 1936)."



"Ultimately Dewey remained committed to his position on the Advisory council until the late 40s. A final lengthy unsent hand-written letter from Dreier addressed to Dewey provides a grim picture of the final days of Dreier’s involvement in college affairs (Dreier [unsent letter to John Dewey] 1947, July). Duberman has described in less sympathetic terms Dreier and Albers’ ploy to wrest control of BMC from the faculty and hand it over to a new Board of Trustees. At the root of Dreier’s decision, as usual, was a concern for the financial stability of the college. Black Mountain had never been officially accredited by the State of North Carolina, and student enrollment was too unreliable (Duberman p.484-5). But this was just one of many problems facing BMC in the late 40s. Dreier despairs in his unsent letter at the difficulty of finding good teachers who are also capable and willing college administrators:
Our program, a pretty real thing to [Albers] and me, was not much more than words to most new [faculty] members with one or two notable exceptions… One way of looking at the present difficulty is to say that we simply haven’t been able to get the staff we need. If we could get an adequate team that could pull together, then I think we could raise the money we need (Dreier [unsent letter to Dewey] 1947, July).

So, Dreier’s concerns are both immediate and practical, but no less frustrating for their immediacy or practicality. He is trying to escape a catch-22 of money and talent. But also, more tellingly, Dreier writes:
Another way of looking at our trouble is that our program has become unclear, conviction has sagged… Hardly anybody sees what’s wrong, but gradually the whole thing is sagging toward breaking (ibid.).

Dreier’s pain and frustration are palpable here. The emotion of this letter is even intensified by the fact that he decided not to send it to his mentor, Dewey. But this unsent letter to Dewey shows the philosophers’ influence as a guiding voice for Dreier, Albers and other faculty at BMC in the 1940s. Dreier, in writing this letter seems to be implicitly asking himself, “what would Dewey do?” not because John Dewey was some all-knowing being, capable of rescuing Black Mountain College from dire financial straits, but because Dewey’s pragmatist method of evaluating experience and taking action had been the basis for everything he had helped create at BMC over the course of the previous 15 years.

The changes in administrative structure that Dreier alludes to in his final unsent letter to Dewey, which he and Albers attempted to implement as a last-ditch effort at financial solvency for BMC, ultimately failed to stick. The ensuing crisis ended in Dreier and Albers being forced to leave. Ironically, strict adherence to the Deweyan progressive educational principle of professional autonomy, which was at the core of Rice’s idea for Black Mountain College, and which Dreier resigned from Rollins in support of, was the same issue that brought Dreier and Albers careers at BMC to an end when they switched sides. In other words, the same philosophical inclination that justified the founding of BMC in 1933 remained and kept BMC on its own radical trajectory in the late 40s, even when figures like Dreier and Albers stepped in to try to change the way the college was organized. So, on the one hand, Albers and Dreier failed at prolonging the life of BMC. But, on the other hand, even in this final failure on Dreier and Albers’s part— in their capitulation to the mainstream bureaucratic structure of higher education, the creation of a non-faculty Board of Trustees which would have had hiring and firing power for BMC— illustrates that the college retained that uniquely Deweyan pragmatist orientation and progressivism. When the community became aware of the changes that Dreier and Albers had gotten underway, they acted democratically to kick Dreier and Albers out!"
bmc  blackmountaincollege  education  progressive  progressiveeducation  johnndewey  johnandrewsrice  josefalbers  theodoredreier  democracy  tcsnmy  progressivism  compromise  annialbers  pragmatism  democratic  democraticschools  unschooling  deschooling  experience  complexity  cv  lcproject  openstudioproject 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Art of Graphic Design: Lustig, Albers, Johnson, and the 1945 Summer Session by Julie J. Thomson | BMCS
"Without visionary artists and educators like Josef Albers and Alvin Lustig who propelled the establishment of graphic design in the academy, the field of graphic design would not have experienced the boom starting in the 1960s that continues today. What Albers and Lustig were able to achieve at Yale was strongly informed from their time teaching and working directly with students at Black Mountain College. Having a student like Ray Johnson at Black Mountain, who achieved success and recognition in the field while still a teenager also supported the possible results that such education could have for students, even though much of this would depend upon the individual student. Black Mountain College gave artists like Albers and Lustig the space and opportunity to develop their own theories about teaching, but it also gave them the opportunity to instill a spirit of experimentation and confidence in the personal vision of their students."
graphicdesign  bmc  blackmountaincollege  alvinlustig  josefalbers  rayjohnson  juliethompson  1955  2013 
august 2014 by robertogreco
‘Not Nothing’ Tries to Capture the Artist Ray Johnson - NYTimes.com
"The Siglio book, edited by the poet Elizabeth Zuba, spans most of this history. The first entries, from the mid-1950s, are pure text, blocks of single-space typed prose. Gertrude Stein’s cut-and-paste approach to language is an obvious influence, jazzed up by Johnson’s penchant, verging on compulsion, for associative wordplay and puns.

Even when his work was text-intensive, though, he had an eye alert to shaping it visually. In a second 1950s piece composed of lists of isolated phrases — “Virginia gets tomahawk,” “regards têtes” — he slanted the lists diagonally across the page and turned half the phrases upside down, a graphic that could have been realized only by a radical reimagining of what a typewriter could do.

Johnson had his art heroes — Joseph Cornell, Kurt Schwitters, Allan Kaprow, the Fluxus founder George Maciunas — whom he acknowledged in his correspondence work, placing their names alongside those of pop stars, art world potentates and personal friends. Name-dropping, if that’s what this was, is a recurrent feature of Johnson’s art, but it’s different than Warhol’s celebrity chasing.

Like Warhol, Johnson had an appetite for glamour and the politics of who-knows-who. But he was impatient with hierarchy. Warhol was a worshiper, Johnson a collector, a cataloger. In his work the same plane of importance is occupied by Marcel Duchamp, Anita O’Day and Toby Spiselman, a Long Island friend. It’s hard to imagine Warhol heading up an Anna May Wong fan club, but Johnson did. There’s a sense that for him all names are equivalent in value, are all collage elements, all “nothings,” or rather somethings, equally useful and even soothing in their sameness.

This is not to say that Johnson’s correspondences are embracing and warm. “Every letter I write is not a love letter,” he once wrote, and he wasn’t kidding. Wary distance was Johnson’s default position. When writing to people he didn’t know — Jacques Derrida, say — he could sound jumpy and twisty or haughty. Even in letters to close friends, like the historian William S. Wilson, his most astute biographer, Johnson tended to dance around difficult, intimate subjects.

He would almost certainly have leveled a cool stare at the 21st-century interest — amounting to a faith — in collectivity, collaboration and social practice as utopian models. Mail art, on the surface, looked democratic, nonelitist, even populist; theoretically, anyone could join in. Yet Johnson’s reports from New York Correspondence School meetings speak of members who were summarily banished from the roster for some infraction or other. Johnson himself, in what feels like a punitive spirit, dropped people from his mailing list. Was such policing meant to be tongue-in-cheek, mocking how the real world operated? Impossible to say. Johnson wore ambiguity like a shield.

Occasionally, though, we see him let down his guard, as in a 1975 letter: “I just can’t take it. Overload. My history is too much for me. By the way, the big emotional event of the year is the departure of Richard Lippold with a young Italian.”

For all the zany exuberance surrounding Johnson’s role as mail-art webmaster, there’s a lot of darkness in the book. Death is a running theme, in Johnson’s tight-lipped bulletins on the demise of artists (Albers, Eva Hesse) and weirdly repeated mentions of dead cats. He describes, with gusto, crushing insects in his apartment, and recounts, with bizarre hilarity, the killing of a rooster he witnessed at a boozy art party. His attitude in the telling is beyond irreverence, close to delight.

But was it really? Any conclusions drawn about Johnson’s psychology from his writing must be provisional. He was a master at covering his tracks. Even friends like Mr. Wilson, a frequent presence in his correspondence, felt they barely knew him. He might as well have been the E. T. that he sometimes looked like. We read the correspondences of artists and writers in search of some truth beyond what they give us in their work. But the only sure truth about Johnson is the work: pioneering, stimulating, witty, angry, exasperating and like no other. If there’s a lot we can’t know, that’s O.K. Mystery is part of his beauty and his lastingness."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:31e2f33614a6
http://kaleidoscope-press.com/2014/06/readray-johnsons-bookspublished-by-siglio-press/
http://sigliopress.com/book/not-nothing/
http://sigliopress.com/book/the-paper-snake/ ]
rayjohnson  collection  catalogs  lists  namedropping  hollandcotter  104  elizabethzuba  blackmountaincollege  bmc  mailart  art  overload  nothings  happenings  concretepoetry  poetry  writing  letters  fluxus  georgemaciunas  allankaprow  josephcornell  kurtschwitters  hierarchy  horizontality  death  irreverence  newyorkcorrespndenceschool  collectivity  collaboration  socialpracticeart  collectivism  ambiguity  2014  books 
august 2014 by robertogreco
BMCS | A peer-reviewed publication of The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
"A peer-reviewed publication of The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center"
blackmountaincollege  bmc 
august 2014 by robertogreco
A Community of Artists: Radical Pedagogy at CalArts, 1969-72 (East of Borneo)
"In (and Out of) the Classroom

The academic program instituted in the first two years after the institute opened in 1970 responded actively to the radical critique of education, at the same time evincing a Romantic belief in the liberating and equalizing powers of art and artists. Early promotional literature explicitly redefined the notion of “school” or steered clear of the word altogether. As Judith Adler notes in her 1979 ethnography of CalArts, Artists in Offices, “reference to the new organization as an institute (with its connotations of scientific and scholarly prestige) and as a community implicitly distinguished CalArts from other schools where artists teach students.” 6 The CalArts concept statement explicitly stated that “students [were] accepted as artists […] and encouraged in the independence this implies,” while elsewhere faculty and students were described as “collaborators.” 7

The first admissions bulletin similarly highlighted the fact that there was to be no fixed curriculum at CalArts. Provost and dean of theater Blau advocated “no information in advance of need,” and dean of music Mel Powell called for “as many curricula as students.” The vision for critical studies outlined by dean Maurice Stein argued for doing away with courses altogether, because “courses really get nobody anywhere.” Powell’s vision for the music school was similarly anarchic and personality-driven: “We must know by now that curricula, or especially descriptions of curricula, are almost always humbug. What counts is the people involved. Expansion of musical sensibility, adroitness, knowledge, experience—that has to be operative, not catalog blather.”

Many of the radical pedagogical impulses expressed in these early admissions materials came to pass once the institute was up and running—in its first year, on a temporary campus at the Villa Cabrini, a former Catholic girls’ school in Burbank, and in its second year, on the permanent CalArts campus in Valencia. Although the school of critical studies did end up offering courses, the options might better be described as “anti-courses”—i.e., non-academic classes parodying academic classes or academic classes in subject areas considered unworthy of study by the academy, such as Advanced Drug Research, Chinese Sutra Meditation, Sex in Human Experience and Society or Superwoman: A Feminist Workshop. Across the institute, schedules were intentionally loose and attendance voluntary. 9 One of the course schedule bulletins that were mimeographed weekly and distributed on campus lists a range of classes and events, some of which repeat, others that do not: a lecture on “Epistemology of Design” is offered “at instructor’s home,” while Peter Van Riper is scheduled to lecture on “Art History or Whatever He’s Into”; a meeting with the dean of students is open to “all persons interested in discussing and working on untraditional ways of providing psychological services (Counseling, Group Therapy, Encounter Groups, etc.)”; the Ewe Ensemble (Music of Ghana) meets in parking lot W, at the same time that Kaprow offers Advanced Happenings; in the evening, a concert by Ravi Shankar."



"The Fluxus artists’ interest in a more open-ended, experienced-based pedagogy and their experiments with temporality and alternative uses of space dovetailed nicely with the administration’s desire to buck the bureaucratic conventions of schooling. 13 As the associate dean of the art school, Kaprow in particular had a powerful influence on the direction of the early institute. “Kaprow was the thinking behind the school as far as I’m concerned,” Knowles argues. “[He] had the vision of a school based on what artists wanted to do rather than what the school wanted them to do.”"



"Corrigan and Blau fought their dismissal, insisting that they couldn’t be fired by the Disney Corporation, only by the board of trustees—who to begin with refused to support the decision. Roy Disney modified his position to allow Corrigan to stay on until the end of the year, though he remained firm in his firing of Blau as provost. Blau rejected an offer to stay on as dean of theater and dance, and by the end of 1972, both Corrigan and Blau had been ousted, three years after they’d begun planning the new school and two years after it opened. The faculty was downsized, and numerous hires they had made were canceled or let go.

Notes from a faculty retreat convened in Idyllwild, California after the institute’s first year reveal that many of the original faculty and administrators themselves favored reforming the structure and curriculum of the institute, and one wonders how the school might have developed had Corrigan and Blau been allowed to stay and build on their experience. Blau, for instance, argued that “the faculty must be better structured to reflect more of a distinction between student and faculty” and “a better definition of competence, eligibility, and progress must be established” for students. He also suggested that “separate programs […] be introduced for students who are capable of directing themselves and those students who need more specific guidance.” Other faculty members cited “great dissatisfaction with the chaotic situation of the past year,” “a need for more pragmatism,” and a need to clarify “programs and degrees—their content and what they represent.”

Although by that time the Disneys had donated more than $30 million to the school, much of it had gone to fund the building, which was lavishly equipped for art making, and the institute soon found itself in financial trouble. After a brief interlude with Walt Disney’s son-in-law Bill Lund at the helm, CalArts got a new president in 1975, Robert Fitzpatrick, whose charge was to assure fiscal solvency to the institute and make “all the divisions separate, to give each dean complete autonomy in his field, and to make the intermingling available to the students who could profit by it as a resource, not an obsession.” 28 Fitzpatrick had little reverence for the institute’s founding vision—either Walt’s version or Blau and Corrigan’s: “The trouble with utopia is that it doesn’t exist,” he said in a 1983 interview. “And then there was this dream of the perfect place for the arts, with all the disciplines beautifully mingling, every filmmaker composing symphonies, every actor a perfect graphic artist. Sure, it’s a great idea as far as it goes. But nobody noticed that each of the arts has its own pace, its own rhythm, and its own demands.”

What is missing from Fitzpatrick’s own vision is any reference to the more Marcusian conception of the institute not just as the “perfect place for the arts,” but as an ideal community fashioned through the arts. As Faith Wilding reflects on her experience in the Feminist Art Program and the community that developed out of it:
What remains of primary importance to me […] is the sense that we were connecting to a much larger enterprise than trying to advance our artistic careers, or to make art for art’s sake. It was precisely our commitment to the activist politics of women’s liberation, to a burgeoning theory and practice of feminism, and to a larger conversation about community, collectivity and radical history, which has given me lasting connections to people and a continuing sense of being part of a cultural and political resistance, however fragmentary the expression of this may be in my life today.

Despite his own conflicts with the institute, Blau holds a similar perspective: “During the time I was there (I cannot speak for it now), it was—like the Bauhaus or Black Mountain—not only a school but very much what Disney wanted, a community of the arts, in which students and teachers trained together, performed together, constructed ‘environments’ together and even somehow managed—where the particular work was not of a communal nature—to leave each other alone.”

CalArts today is a school rather than an anti-school, with grades (low pass/pass/high pass), a timetable for graduation, and for the first time in its history, a syllabus in every classroom. Yet an investment in radical pedagogy persists, with a loose consensus that the educational situations that work best often involve field trips and social outreach, project-based learning, and “mentoring” as opposed to “teaching.” The notion that faculty are to treat students as artists and colleagues prevails, with its attendant benefits and difficulties. The question of what form the delivery of content should take is a live one. Time and space are continually contested, and an openness to what might be places constant pressure on what is.

Just last year, the institute carved out a “commons” time from the heavily scheduled individual school curricula in which students can come together across disciplines to collaborate—in some sense, a return to its origins. Although, to paraphrase Marcuse, an art school can only be truly free in a free society—i.e., art becomes life only when life is also opened up to creative change—the promise of this commingling endures. Indeed, the Gesamtkunstwerk that preserves a vision of emancipated social life in times of political conservatism holds even greater possibilities in our own era of renewed resistance and collective action."
calarts  cv  history  education  1960s  1970s  robertfitzpatrick  roydisney  waltdisney  robertcorrigan  mariosalvo  herbertblau  fluxus  judithadler  melpowell  janetsarbanes  mauricestein  feminism  freedom  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  alisonknowles  petervanriper  allankaprow  dickhiggins  emmettwilliams  jamestenney  namjunepaik  owensmith  judychicagomiriamschapiro  johnbaldessari  herbertmarcuse  art  arteducation  radicalism  communes  communalism  interdisciplinary  crosspollination  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  experimentation  blackmountaincollege  bmc  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  deschooling  capitalism  unschooling  power  control  democracy  anti-teaching  anti-schools  artschools  altgdp  activism  community  relationships  bauhaus  collectivism  society  grades  grading  schedules  timelines  syllabus  projectbasedlearning  2014  1969  1970  1971  1972  pbl  radicalpedagogy  artschool  syllabi 
august 2014 by robertogreco
permeabile: Al Black Mountain College
"bmc

c’era una volta una scuola
che era diversa da tutte le altre
così la gente non la capiva"
blackmountaincollege  bmc  italian 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Inside and Outside at the Same Time (East of Borneo)
"Exploring the exterior surface of Ruth Asawa's looped-wire sculptures can be a tricky feat. As the eye grasps and follows the volumetric form, the exterior becomes the interior. Just when the mind adjusts to this switch, the interior transforms into the exterior again, the sculpture's undulating form suggesting a continuous movement from one state to another without interruption. As Asawa once described it, “What I was excited by was I could make a shape that was inside and outside at the same time.” 1 This duality comes not from a transformation of the material, as the basic character of the metal wire remains the same throughout the sculpture. Nor does it derive from a dramatic manipulation of the looping process, since a simple chain stitch of evenly formed interlocking loops is employed. Rather, Asawa creates a dynamic sculpture by bringing a different approach to a conventional form of needlework and the prosaic material of wire. Like a paper Möbius strip, which is one of its inspirations, 2 an Asawa wire sculpture has no front or back or inside or outside. “You could create something … that just continuously reverses itself,” Asawa has said of this work. 3

Understanding the significance of Asawa's Japanese American identity to her art presents a similar feat. Almost all accounts of her art and life remark on the fact of Asawa's Japanese heritage. From her earliest exhibitions to her most recent public art commissions, her ethnicity is evoked as if it could unlock both the meaning of her work and the origins of her experiences. Yet being a Japanese American has meant different things at different junctures to the conditions of Asawa's art-making and the contexts of her art's reception. While it may be impossible to assess what Japanese ancestry means to Asawa—her specific subjectivity—there is no question that her race and ethnicity mattered to others and presented unique circumstances that impacted opportunities for her as an artist just as it affected the way her art was received and interpreted. This essay proposes to briefly explore Asawa's early life and art as a way to understand how her formative experiences as a Japanese American shaped her sensibility as an artist.

Asawa has repeatedly located her transformation as an artist to Black Mountain College and her principal teacher, Josef Albers. Of course, this is not surprising. Both Black Mountain College and Albers occupy a pivotal place in the annals of American art, and their impact has been explored in numerous exhibitions and publications. 4 But without minimizing the catalytic effect of the Black Mountain experience on Asawa, a number of factors present on her parents' farm and during the family's World War II incarceration cultivated in her the requisite conditions to fully integrate the philosophy and teaching of Albers and others at the college, namely: a familiarity with self-contained communal environments, requiring collaboration and toil; an appreciation for ingenuity through thrift; and exposure to progressive education that included sustained relationships with working artists. Asawa's Japanese American ethnicity framed these experiences; while it may have condemned Asawa and her family to limited spheres of existence, it also opened up other avenues of opportunity, ones that ultimately enabled Asawa to pursue her specific kind of art and art activism.

Life on the Farm

In a 2003 interview with her eldest daughter, Aiko Cuneo, Asawa describes the meager surroundings of her childhood home: “We didn't have [art] on the walls. We had only one book, which was an encyclopedia, and we had a Bible.” 5 What Ruth did have was an extended family of Asawas. Her father Umakichi, his older brother Zenzaburo, and an uncle had established truck farms in Norwalk, California, after adventures working on the sugar plantations of Hawaii, in coal mines in Mexico, at a general store in EI Paso, and on farms in Utah and in Huntington Beach and San Diego, California. 6 The Asawas' relatives in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, arranged marriages for the brothers, which were consummated through the exchange of pictures. In a practice quite common in the period, two sisters of the Yasuda family, Shio and Haru, married Zenzaburo and Umakichi, respectively. The families were doubly connected by blood and further tied to one another when Zenzaburo died, leaving Umakichi to assist in the care of his brother's family of six.

On the farm—on leased land, as Japanese were barred from owning property—communal labor was central. The seven Asawa children were expected to contribute to the rigorous work schedule. Upon returning from school in the afternoons, they worked until dinner, after which they worked some more. Each child had specific duties but understood how it related to the whole. One of Ruth Asawa's jobs was repairing the thin wooden boxes used for tomatoes, radishes, cabbage, cucumbers, melons, celery, lettuce, beans, and other crops. 7 Though mundane, the task required manual dexterity, the use of a hammer and hatchet, and the ability to gauge the width and depth of pieces of wood. To cultivate Kentucky Wonders, Blue Lakes, and lima beans, Asawa's father used recycled laths to form the beanpoles, to which Ruth coiled string in a way that mirrored weaving techniques."
ruthasawa  art  bmc  blackmountaincollege  history  artists  california 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Denise Levertov : The Poetry Foundation
"Because Levertov never received a formal education, her earliest literary influences can be traced to her home life in Ilford, England, a suburb of London. Levertov and her older sister, Olga, were educated by their Welsh mother, Beatrice Adelaide Spooner-Jones, until the age of thirteen. The girls further received sporadic religious training from their father, Paul Philip Levertoff, a Russian Jew who converted to Christianity and subsequently moved to England and became an Anglican minister. In the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Carolyn Matalene explained that "the education [Levertov] did receive seems, like Robert Browning's, made to order. Her mother read aloud to the family the great works of nineteenth-century fiction, and she read poetry, especially the lyrics of Tennyson. . . . Her father, a prolific writer in Hebrew, Russian, German, and English, used to buy secondhand books by the lot to obtain particular volumes. Levertov grew up surrounded by books and people talking about them in many languages." It has been said that many of Levertov's readers favor her lack of formal education because they see it as an impetus to verse that is consistently clear, precise, and accessible. According to Earnshaw, "Levertov seems never to have had to shake loose from an academic style of extreme ellipses and literary allusion, the self-conscious obscurity that the Provencal poets called 'closed.'"

Levertov had confidence in her poetic abilities from the beginning, and several well-respected literary figures believed in her talents as well. Gould recorded Levertov's "temerity" at the age of twelve when she sent several of her poems directly to T. S. Eliot: "She received a two-page typewritten letter from him, offering her 'excellent advice.' . . . His letter gave her renewed impetus for making poems and sending them out." Other early supporters included critic Herbert Read, editor Charles Wrey Gardiner, and author Kenneth Rexroth. When Levertov had her first poem published in Poetry Quarterly in 1940, Rexroth professed: "In no time at all Herbert Read, Tambimutti, Charles Wrey Gardiner, and incidentally myself, were all in excited correspondence about her. She was the baby of the new Romanticism. Her poetry had about it a wistful Schwarmerei unlike anything in English except perhaps Matthew Arnold's 'Dover Beach.' It could be compared to the earliest poems of Rilke or some of the more melancholy songs of Brahms.""



"Levertov's American poetic voice was, in one sense, indebted to the simple, concrete language and imagery, and also the immediacy, characteristic of Williams Carlos Williams's art. Accordingly, Ralph J. Mills Jr. remarked in his essay in Poets in Progress that Levertov's verse "is frequently a tour through the familiar and the mundane until their unfamiliarity and otherworldliness suddenly strike us. . . . The quotidian reality we ignore or try to escape, . . . Levertov revels in, carves and hammers into lyric poems of precise beauty." In turn, Midwest Quarterly reviewer Julian Gitzen explained that Levertov's "attention to physical details [permitted her] to develop a considerable range of poetic subject, for, like Williams, she [was] often inspired by the humble, the commonplace, or the small, and she [composed] remarkably perceptive poems about a single flower, a man walking two dogs in the rain, and even sunlight glittering on rubbish in a street."

In another sense, Levertov's verse exhibited the influence of the Black Mountain poets, such as Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, and Robert Creeley, whom Levertov met through her husband. Cid Corman was among the first to publish Levertov's poetry in the United States in Origin in the 1950s. Unlike her early formalized verse, Levertov now gave homage to the projectivist verse of the Black Mountain era, whereby the poet "projects" through content rather than through strict meter or form. Although Levertov was assuredly influenced by several renowned American writers of the time, Matalene believed Levertov's "development as a poet [had] certainly proceeded more according to her own themes, her own sense of place, and her own sensitivities to the music of poetry than to poetic manifestos." Indeed, Matalene explained that when Levertov became a New Directions author in 1959, this came to be because editor James Laughlin had detected in Levertov's work her own unique voice."
deniseleverton  poetry  writing  writers  autodidacts  unschooling  deschooling  blackmountaincollege  blackmountainpoets  robertcreeley  charlesolson  robertduncan  cidcorman  projectivism  bmc  rilke 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Mythic School of the Mountain: Black Mountain College | Our State Magazine
"In early 1933, John Andrew Rice, an outspoken firebrand and educator, founded a revolutionary new college deep in the mountains of North Carolina’s Buncombe County, just a few miles from the village of Black Mountain. Black Mountain College not only became a legend in its own time, but also established itself during its brief existence as the boldest, most progressive educational experiment in American history.

Rice, a dissident professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, had been dismissed from his teaching post. He had been accused of many things, chief among them fomenting revolt among the Rollins faculty. Rice held that traditional lockstep academia, and its often anemic curricula, allowed little in the way of independent thought and engagement. Upon departing, he led a band of fellow academic dissidents — as well as a number of Rollins students loyal to him — away from Rollins and established Black Mountain College. Rice had nothing in the way of a plan, much less dollars or even a building. The college’s very first catalog stated that it had been founded “to provide a place where free use might be made of tested and proved methods of education and new methods tried in a purely experimental spirit … ”

The W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, in the Belk Library at Appalachian State University, houses the John Andrew Rice Papers, a trove of lore and memorabilia. One extraordinary document — tattered, cracked, and with Rice’s own penned-in emendations — is a single page of aged onionskin, at its crest the heading, in all caps, THE PURPOSE OF THE COLLEGE. It begins: “The purpose of the college is to lead on to creative consciousness a carefully selected group of talented young men and young women who are eager to know, to will, and to do.” Across its very bottom edge, in Rice’s penmanship, sprawls “Inner freedom in judgment and action.”

That first semester, fall of 1933, Black Mountain College had 13 faculty members and 26 students. The physical plant materialized, like so many of Black Mountain’s milestones, through serendipity. One of Rice’s confederates, Bob Wunsch, a dramatist from Rollins and a North Carolina native — not incidentally the roommate of Thomas Wolfe for a time at the University of North Carolina — suggested the first site for the college. The Blue Ridge Assembly, a Christian conference and training center, established in 1906, was a cluster of blazing-white buildings, including the august antebellum structure Robert E. Lee Hall. It was utilized in the summer for religious retreats, but unused for the most part during the traditional academic year. Rice and Wunsch engineered a deal and were able to rent The Blue Ridge Assembly for a fantastic bargain. Nevertheless, there was the Depression to contend with. There was little money to speak of. Malcolm Forbes, of the famous Forbes family and a former Rollins professor himself, provided the majority of the underwriting.

Black Mountain College faculty, with liberal input from the students, ran the entire operation. No boards of regents, directors, or trustees. The college was not accredited. Of the roughly 1,200 students who attended during its history, few (approximately 60) ever graduated, and those who did received hand-designed, homemade diplomas. Yet its students, upon leaving Black Mountain, were coveted by the very best graduate schools in America and beyond. The school’s structure was its lack of structure. The pedagogical direction was whatever students and teachers agreed upon. No grades. Process claimed dominion over product. Many local Buncombe citizens regarded Black Mountain with suspicion and disdain.

In the beginning, faculty were paid on the basis of need. When there was enough money, they received small salaries, plus room and board. Much of the food that fed the residents was grown on the college farm. Self-sufficiency, living lean and close to the land in the true pioneering tradition of America, was very much a part of Black Mountain. The college taught that the exchange of creature comforts for freedom was a more than equitable barter. Black Mountain invented itself and in so doing established a paradigm for all educational communities ever after to mimic. It initiated itself by posing tough questions about arbitrary, traditional rules governing education and teaching, questions about the self and various external fetters imposed upon it.

Black Mountain was also a crucible of dangerously volatile social change. Long before the rest of America wrestled with sexual orientation and racial integration, Black Mountain was establishing a forum for discussion and acceptance, but always — and perhaps more important — dissent. During its inception, it became a sanctuary for Jewish intellectuals, many of whom were fleeing the scourge of Nazi Europe.

My intoxication with Black Mountain College began the summer of 1987, when Ronald H. Bayes, my Literary Godfather, laid in my hands Martin Duberman’s Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community. I had just started teaching at what was then St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College in Laurinburg — a little town every bit as obscure as the town of Black Mountain was in 1933 when the first faculty members of Black Mountain College arrived at the rail station on Sutton Avenue and were spirited off to their new home at the Blue Ridge Assembly in the very rural Swannanoa Valley.

Bayes, a longtime distinguished professor and writer-in-residence at St. Andrew’s — by my lights, a fringe Black Mountain poet himself — had been intimates with Black Mountain writers Charles Olson, Ed Dorn, Jonathan Williams, Joel Oppenheimer, and Fielding Dawson, and a very close friend of Robert Creeley until Creeley’s death. Through Bayes’s magical connections, many of those writers had been frequent visitors to the St. Andrew’s campus, and, in 1974, St. Andrew’s hosted the now mythic, actually unimaginable (so large are the names on this list), Black Mountain Festival, which featured the writers already mentioned as well as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, and M.C. Richards.

At the time I read Duberman’s book, I had merely heard of Black Mountain College, which I knew no longer existed. I conceived of it like any other college, like the ones I attended and taught at. As I read, however, I was astonished to learn, page by page, what experimental education and community looked like up close — perhaps what education and community had been meant to aspire to all along. What’s more, I was utterly mystified as to why — having been a North Carolinian and a college English professor for 10 years and pretty knowledgeable, or so I thought, in American literature — Black Mountain College had never crossed my radar.

Today, 27 years after I discovered Black Mountain, it remains among even the well-educated across America — not to mention the citizens of North Carolina — at best an anomaly, but more a well-kept secret. There is nothing to commemorate its considerable glory other than a terse epitaph etched into a silver historical marker on U.S. Highway 70 (State Street) at West College Street, traveling west out of the charming little town of Black Mountain: “BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE: Est. in 1933: Closed 1956. Experimental school with emphasis on fine arts & progressive education. Campus was 3 mi. NW.”"



:Yet, to this day, it remains the greatest experimental academic adventure ever launched on American soil. During its shimmering, stormy history, many of the nation’s greatest thinkers and artists were in residence or paid visits to Black Mountain: Anni Albers, Josef Albers, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Robert De Niro Sr., John Dewey, Aldous Huxley, Alfred Kazin, Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Paul Goodman, Walter Gropius, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Henry Miller, Charles Olson, Arthur Penn, Francine du Plessix-Gray, Mary Caroline Richards, Robert Rauschenburg, Ben Shahn, Thornton Wilder, and countless others.

However, to associate Black Mountain exclusively with this litany of the renowned remains one of the chief hazards of its legacy. What makes the phenomenon of Black Mountain stupendous is the fact that, apart from its glittering roster, there are any number of famous artists and writers, ones without names in neon, without international or even national reputations, who have made prominent names for themselves across every area of the arts. But not just in the arts. Black Mountain produced some of America’s most profound innovators in education, science, social work, architecture, urban planning, psychiatry, history, politics, on and on. To research a Black Mountain College alumnus is to stumble upon greatness. They became citizens of blazing social consciousness and engagement who put to daily practice what John Andrew Rice imagined for his new college’s students back in 1933: inner freedom in judgment and action. In The Black Mountain Book, Fielding Dawson declares: “Forget about the big names” — more a Zen injunction than a literal one. He goes on to say, in an interview I conducted with him, that “[Black Mountain] had a lot to do with a lot of talented individuals who were really interested in what they were doing. The mystic, the intuitive, the anarchist is much more the fact of Black Mountain …”

Black Mountain College started with pure intellectual curiosity and radical curricular reform. It rewrote the history of the self, an opus still unraveling as the endless labyrinth of influence that is Black Mountain branches off into tributary after tributary. Black Mountain College was a gorgeous, temperamental hybrid, gone before America even knew it existed. Nevertheless, as Charles Olson proclaimed in a letter to Martin Duberman: “ There’s no end to the story — her flag flies.’ ”"
blackmountaincollege  bmc  northcarolina  asheville  blackmountain  history  progressive  johnandrewrice  josephbathanti  art  bonaldbayes  martinduberman  segregation  integration  fieldingdawson  charlesolson  writing  poetry  tleverettsmith  ncwesleyan  lcproject  openstudioproject  freedom  unschooling  deschooling  learning  education  highered  highereducation 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Legend of Black Mountain - YouTube
"Black Mountain College was a phenomenal circumstance. The fact that so many artists of that level in their respective fields could organize and develop such an institution is unparalleled. Who would've thought that a small mountain town of western North Carolina would be their home, albeit for a short while."
bmc  blackmountaincollege 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Black Mountain Poets – Contemporary Poetry
"The Black Mountain poetry movement was centered around a relatively small group of mid-20th century avant-garde and postmodernist poets who were associated with the Black Mountain College. The experimental art school offered a wide curriculum of classes spanning the literary, visual, and musical fields of learning. The school drew its breath from Charles Olson's influential essay, "Projective Verse," which came to define the effort of the movement in general. In his essay, Olson called for a change in form and perception of modern poetry at the time. Olson called attention to the line and the artist's ability to articulate their vision through breath and syllables, rather than rhyme and meter. Although the school only enrolled 1,200 students throughout its lifetime, the school harnessed some of the most creative and influential artists of its time. Amongst the prominent literary teachers were, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan. Famous performing arts teachers included revolutionary composer John Cage and renowned choreographer Merce Cunningham. At times, guest lecturers even included Albert Einstein. Creeley,the most prominent Black Mountain poet beside Olson, moved to San Francisco in 1957 after teaching and working as editor of the Black Mountain Review at the College for two years. Once in San Francisco, Creely operated with Allen Ginsberg as a direct link between the Black Mountain Poets and the Beats. The movement heavily influenced the modernist poets who came to be associated with the Language School. Although the school was short-lived, its influential teaching and the creative minds it produced stirred a movement that revolutionized the avant-garde."
poetry  blackmountaincollege  bmc  robertcreely  robertduncan  deniselevertov  charlesolson 
july 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA’s ‘There Will Never Be Silence,’ About John Cage - NYTimes.com
"Seventy years later, Cage is back at MoMA, the subject of an exhibition that charts the influence of Duchamp and other visual artists on his experiments with chance operations that culminated in his groundbreaking and still-controversial four minutes and 33 seconds of silence....

The final nudge toward Cage’s silent work came from Robert Rauschenberg, whom he met in 1951, while the artist was working on his white paintings. These smooth, monochrome canvases went a step further than Barnett Newman’s “The Voice,” which is also part of the show. That painting is almost entirely white, too, but the variations in brush strokes and a subtly vertical line running down one side like a scar give the viewer’s eye plenty to engage with.

By contrast, Rauschenberg’s white paintings were not articulated in any way, Mr. Platzker said. “Cage recognized that what Rauschenberg had done was remove all the elements of ‘art,’ ” he said. “And that if you put up a painting like that in a room, it’s going to interact with the light and dust particles in the air.”

In August 1952, Cage presented the first of his multimedia Happenings at Black Mountain and used Rauschenberg’s white paintings as a backdrop. (Soon afterward came the premiere of “4’33” ” in Woodstock.)...

The second part of the exhibition looks at the Fluxus movement and traces Cage’s own influence on artists, beginning with those he taught in his course on experimental composition at the New School. MoMA’s collection includes notebooks from that course, photographs of the class itself and pieces directly derived from it by students including George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, Dick Higgins and others.

Yoko Ono and La Monte Young provide playful examples of verbal instructions. Ms. Ono’s book “Grapefruit” is open to a page containing “Kitchen Piece,” dating from the winter of 1960. “Hang a canvas on a wall,” she writes. “Throw all the leftovers you have in the kitchen that day on the canvas. You may prepare special food for the piece.”"

[See also: https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2014/01/03/composing-silence-john-cage-and-black-mountain-college-3/ ]
johncage  eventscores  erasure  silence  music  blackmountaincollege  2014  bmc  art  happenings  moma  marcelduchamp  barnettnewman  yokoono  lamonteyoung  robertrauschenberg  via:shannon_mattern  fluxus 
january 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA | Composing Silence: John Cage and Black Mountain College
"In the summer of 1951 at Black Mountain College, Rauschenberg began a series of entirely white paintings. (His 1965 instructions for the White Paintings are on view adjacent to the album in the exhibition.) Only a few months prior, Cage was introduced to Rauschenberg at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, initiating a period of close exchange that lasted throughout both artists’ lives. Upon witnessing the development of the White Paintings, Cage was taken aback by the younger artist’s bold abandonment of figuration. He recognized that the White Paintings were not, in fact, devoid of form, but rather served, in his words, as “mirrors of the air” and “airports for the lights, shadows, and particles.” As early as February 1948, Cage introduced the theoretical foundations for 4′33″—to “compose a piece of uninterrupted silence”—during a lecture at Vassar College. However, he claimed that it was not until seeing Rauschenberg’s White Paintings that he had the courage to explore silence within his own work.

In August 1952, Cage returned to Black Mountain College and organized Theater Piece No. 1, an unscripted performance considered by many to be the first Happening. The event took place in the college dining hall and included Rauschenberg, Cunningham, and Cage’s frequent collaborator, the young pianist David Tudor, among others. As Kyle Gann described in his book No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4′33″, the audience was seated in four triangular sections, while Cage stood on a ladder at the center. From his elevated position, Cage delivered a lecture as artists, musicians, and dancers moved freely through the space—which featured at least one of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings—deflecting attention from any single narrative and complicating the distinction between art and life. Just weeks after the production of Theater Piece No. 1, David Tudor encouraged Cage that the timing was right for Tudor to publicly perform Cage’s “silent” piece during his upcoming program at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York.

There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″ reunites many of the figures and works that influenced Cage between 1948—the year in which he first discussed his idea for 4′33″—and its premiere on August 29, 1952."

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/arts/music/momas-there-will-never-be-silence-about-john-cage.html?pagewanted=all ]
johncage  silence  happenings  performance  music  erasure  bmc  blackmountaincollege  2014  robertrauschenberg  via:shannon_mattern  josefalbers  annialbers 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Black Mountain SOLE: MOOC campus for online learners has rough start | New Republic
"Since launching in September, Black Mountain has watched much of its seed money drain away as it struggles to build a seaworthy business model. Though many of the tech- and business-minded SOLEmates have flourished, creative types and liberal arts-seekers have foundered. The number of participants is growing, but at least half of the original class seems likely to leave before finishing their intended nine-month stay. Black Mountain was founded on the premise that college’s last remaining selling point, in this digital age, is community—so it set out to replicate the effect. The last four months have gone a long way toward proving the theory wrong."



"An Air Force brat, Dobias jokes that his elementary school teachers wanted him medicated for ADHD. For the first two decades of his life, he had no doubt that he would join the military when the time came. But his sophomore year at the Air Force Academy, Dobias had a seizure that disqualified him from service. “I sort of lost my identity,” he says. The seizure led to brain surgery; Dobias showed me the scar on his scalp, under his light brown hair. For a while, he tried working as a helicopter rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard and taking classes from Columbia Southern University online, working toward his unfinished degree. On a whim, he read The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss’s best-selling self-help book on how to “escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich.” He decided to become an entrepreneur.

Dobias flew planes and raced in triathlons in his free time, which is how he met his mentor, a venture capitalist named Mark Hunter. Dobias scored a job at KLH Capital, the firm Hunter had co-founded at age 23. Hunter, alas, left the firm to train for life as a monk. Before Hunter moved to India, Dobias visited him on weekends in Florida, where they’d stay up past midnight watching TED Talks in their pajamas. They were huddled in front of a computer in the wee hours of the morning when lightning struck. “We looked at each other and said, ‘We gotta do this,’” Dobias recalled. They didn’t quite shake on it—Dobias says the project “started with a pound.” Months later, they decided to dub their project a “SOLE,” or Self-Organized Learning Environment, inspired by another talk: Newcastle University professor Sugata Mitra’s, which won TED’s 2013 prize for best idea.

Hunter abandoned their messianic calling for a monastery in Calcutta, but not before setting up a 501c3 through which Dobias raised $350,000 from a venture capital donor. With it, he rented a dorm and a classroom building at the Blue Ridge Assembly, a century-old property near Asheville belonging to the YMCA. The oldest buildings are stately, antebellum-style halls with trunk-like pillars, gleaming white against the verdant hills. Dobias didn’t learn until after signing the agreement that the site once played host to the equally experimental Black Mountain College, home of such avant-garde artists as Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and Robert Creeley from 1933 through 1957. He says he was tickled by the “synchronicity.”"



"Asking artistically-inclined SOLEmates like Kosior to find their own mentors and lead their own workshops jives with the motto of “do it yourself learning.” But education-seekers like Kosior are swimming against the techie tide. The most collegiate offering I found was an “academic support group,” led by Byrne. At the beginning, she envisioned it as a daily meeting rotating between literature, theoretical math, science, and languages (she was trying to teach herself Portuguese; another SOLEmate had suggested the group learn Na’vi, the made-up tongue from the James Cameron movie Avatar). She assigned “The Depressed Person” by David Foster Wallace for a discussion on “man versus self in literature.” By early December, though, the seminar had morphed into an entrepreneurial support group, whose members helped out with one another’s business projects and read up on passive income and copywriting."
blackmountainsole  mooc  moocs  noracaplan-bricker  2013  bmc  blackmountaincollege  forshame  business  education  learning 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The Expanded Field of Design: "black mountain college"
[Text from: http://phenomenaltransparency.blogspot.com/2009/08/works.html ]

"The Black Mountain College paradigm, with roots in the Bauhaus and branches in a utopian ideal, was neither infallible nor oblivious, and its primary commitment was to maintaining a vital and responsive atmosphere for personal and collective growth. The shared space, scalar intimacy and de-institutionalized conditions that supported BMC’s activity in the mid-century were catalysts for a dynamic and reciprocal spatial engagement, a physical dialogue with space. Could today’s embodiment of BMC cultivate this relationship further? Could the space of learning itself become a generative component, an operative medium?"

See also: 2009 Thesis - Black Mountain Redux
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jennyswork/sets/72157608875642411/
and black mtn studies
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jennyswork/sets/72157622911101112/
BMC redux document excerpts
http://phenomenaltransparency.blogspot.com/2009/01/studies-building-plan-via-black.html
Intro / Chapters One - Three
http://phenomenaltransparency.blogspot.com/2009/01/chapter-one.html
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mY6eEtoVoSQ/SeAjckfhIZI/AAAAAAAAAbo/YfBvX69pK4w/s1600/DiagProgram8.jpg ]
jennymeyers  blackmountaincollege  bmc  architecture  design  2009  buckminsterfuller 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Occupational Art School • Please join us Wednesday, September 26th at...
"Occupational Art School (OAS) is a start up art school in Bushwick, Brooklyn, born out of the arts and culture committee at the hieght of  the occupy movement. The overall approach is to combine a self-educational salon with some of the sustainable urban strategies expressed in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. After doing a visioning process and researching similar endeavors like Black Mountain College, 3rd Ward, Eyebeam and Bruce High Quality, it became clear that there is no single place that allows one to develop a holistic approach to being an artist in the city in the way we are envisioning. You do your urban farming in one neighborhood, showcase and sell your handmade wares in another and go back to your studio to produce your artwork for a gallery showing, all disconnected. OAS is a one-stop shop for integrating art practice and a sustainable lifestyle in such a way that is regenerative – an artist centric enterprise with a strong educational component provided by its members/participants. Influencing projects from the Buckminster Fuller Challenge include Plant Chicago, Brooklyn Farm Yards and Santa Fe Innovation Park. Courses started in August 2012."

[See also: http://occupationalartschool.com/post/32344560754/oas-conference-call-notes-september2012 ]
oas  occupationalartschool  ows  occupywallstreet  altgdp  arteducation  nyc  brooklyn  jenjoyroybal  bmc  blackmountaincollege 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Ray Johnson Show
"A blog for the exhibition, FROM BMC TO NYC: The Tutelary Yeats of Ray Johnson (1943-1967) Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Asheville, NC"

[via: http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/exhibitions/past/87-from-bmc-to-nyc-the-tutelary-years-of-ray-johnson-1943-1967 ]
blackmountaincollege  bmc  rayjohnson  art  artists  collage 
august 2013 by robertogreco
♦ | Black Mountain College, a school founded in 1933...
"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.

This work is a research of BMC focused on food and activities of the their farm.
ISIA Urbino"
blackmountaincollege  2013  booklets  books  bookmaking  bmc  laurapaniccia  isiaurbino 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Aims of Education and Other Essays, Alfred North Whitehead [.pdf]
[Broken link, use this for now: https://archive.org/details/aimsofeducationo00whitrich ]

"The proper function of a university is the imaginative acquisition of knowledge… Imagination is a contagious disease. It cannot be measured by the yard, or weighed by the pound, and then delivered to the students by members of the faculty. It can only be communicated by a faculty whose members themselves wear their learning with imagination."



"The justification for a university is that it preserves the connection between knowledge and the zest of life, by uniting the young and the old in the imaginative consideration of learning."

[Cited within "Fully Awake: Black Mountain College": http://www.amazon.com/Fully-Awake-Black-Mountain-Collage/dp/B004ZT6B3W ]
education  canon  1929  learning  universities  colleges  highered  unschooling  deschooling  highereducation  alfrednorthwhitehead  life  living  blackmountaincollege  bmc 
july 2013 by robertogreco
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