Reasons We Wish We Went to Black Mountain College

  1. Foundation rooted in solidarity
    Black Mountain College had a strong sense of community. When John Rice was dismissed from his position as a tenured professor at the conservative Rollins College in 1933, many fellow faculty members resigned from their positions as acts of solidarity with Rice and hoped he would establish a new progressive college. (John Rice, n.d.)
  2. A safe haven from the rise of Hitler and WW2
    The events that precipitated the College’s founding occurred simultaneously with the rise of Adolf Hitler, the closing of the Bauhaus by the Nazis, and the beginning of the persecution of artists and intellectuals on the European continent. Some of these people found their way to BMC, including Josef and Anni Albers. (Hazel Larsen Archer, "Josef Albers," c. 1948; Hazel Larsen Archer, "Anni Albers," c. 1948)
  3. Experimental Attitude
    When John Rice sent a telegram to Josef Albers inviting him to teach, Albers famously replied, “I don’t speak English.” Rice, equally famously, responded, “Come anyway.” (Josef Albers in a drawing class, ca. 1939-40)
  4. Sense of Community
    From the start, Black Mountain students and faculty took on small, individual duties like cleaning one’s room and study, as well as larger, more collective tasks like washing dishes and gathering firewood for the huge Lee Hall fireplace. (Elaine de Kooning, R. Buckminster Fuller, Ray Johnson, Albert Lanier, and others with the Supine Dome, 1948)
  5. Farming
    Students and faculty were responsible for daily work on the farm where they would prune apple trees in the winter, work in the garden during fall and winter, and would end their days by drinking tea and having intellectual conversations. (Photography class in Cabbage Patch, n.d.)
  6. Faculty and Student Dances
    Music instructor John Evarts, played waltzes, polkas, square dances, and other songs after dinner on Saturday evenings for dances that were attended by faculty and students. (Saturday night dance in dining hall on Lake Eden campus, c. 1945.)
  7. Year Long Lake Eden Residency
    Black Mountain College’s relocation next to Lake Eden in 1941 meant that students and faculty could reside there all year. It also meant that they could enjoy a range of summer activities by the popular lake, including swimming and canoeing. (Students lounging on dock, Lake Eden, n.d.)
  8. Music and Dance as Core Subjects
    The Merce Cunningham Dance Company was founded at Black Mountain College because Merce Cunningham and John Cage believed that dance and music should occur in the same time and space. (Hazel Larsen Archer , "Merce Cunningham Dancing," c. 1952-53)
  9. Diverse Ideas and Influences
    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. Of particular influence to many BMC faculty members was the art and architecture of pre-Columbian Mexico. (Josef Albers, "Pyramid of Tenajuca," n.d.)