After Black Mountain College: Community and Collaboration Symposium
After Black Mountain College: Community and Collaboration SymposiumFri, Oct 30, 2015 9:00 am-3:00 pm Fenway Center
Northeastern Center for the Arts presents After Black Mountain College: Community & Collaboration, a one-day symposium that examines the influence of Black Mountain College’s experimental teaching models on contemporary art.
This convening features artists, historians and scholars in four curated conversations organized by Dr. Gloria Sutton, Northeastern University Art + Design and Dr. Jenni Sorkin, UCSB Art History. The symposium has been organized in collaboration with the exhibition Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 curated by Helen Molesworth with Ruth Erickson for the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston.
The small, experimental liberal arts college founded in 1933, Black Mountain College 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, Black Mountain College offered equal attention to painting, weaving, sculpture, pottery, poetry, music, and dance. 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.
Symposium Participants: Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Anna Craycroft, Eva Diaz, Bree Edwards, Anne Ellegood, Ruth Erickson, Nathan Felde, Renée Green, Elizabeth Hudson, Amanda Reeser Lawrence, Michael Lobel, Ezra Shales, Jenni Sorkin, Carol A. Stakenas, Gloria Sutton, Sara VanDerBeek, James Voorhies, Gregory H. Williams
Buckminster Fuller’s Architecture class, 1949 Summer Institute, Black Mountain College
Courtesy of Western Regional Archives, State Archives of NC
Click on photos for full bios.
Video After Black Mountain College: Community & Collaboration symposium, Northeastern University
Video part one linked above.
Video part two linked above.
Schedule for the Day
9:00 AM Welcome
Bree Edwards, Director, Northeastern Center for the Arts and Elizabeth Hudson, Dean, Northeastern College of Arts, Media & Design
9:05-10:15AM Lost and Found: Translation, Production and Participation
Black Mountain College’s mid-century model of interdisciplinary artistic practice is an important antecedent for the translation, dissemination, and remediation of art forms from one discipline to another. How did these new forms of cultural production give rise to artists’ collectives, cooperatives, and models of collaborative work as distinct from studio-driven art making?
Anne Ellegood, Senior Curator, Hammer Museum, UCLA Sara VanDerBeek, Artist
Gloria Sutton, Assistant Professor, Contemporary Art History and New Media, Northeastern University
10:15 – 11:30AM Experiential Art and the Performance of Life
Black Mountain College was a key site for the first American interdisciplinary artistic practices that combined visual art, dance, music, choreography, performance, film and theater. While John Cage’s Theatre Piece #1 (1952), widely considered the first avant-garde Happening, is the best known, it is less well known that students initiated and ran the Light Sound Movement Workshop from 1949-1951. What is the legacy of experience, hierarchy and student teacher relations in artmaking? What are the conditions in contemporary practice that defy, define or encapsulate the difficult nature of collaboration between artists and their communities? How do ephemeral or durational practices in performance complicate the nature of legacy?
Ruth Erickson, Assistant Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Carol A. Stakenas, Interim Director, Grossman Gallery, SMFA
James Voorhies, John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University
Gregory Williams, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History, Boston University
11:30 – 12:30PM Lunch
12:30 – 12:35PM Introduction by Nathan Felde, Chair, Northeastern Art + Design Dept
12:35 – 1:45PM Markers of Influence
Within the historiography of Black Mountain College itself, BMC’s own identity formation has rooted in ideas of artistic influence and legacies of experimentation. While the College had a formidable faculty, some of its most well known associates taught only briefly, or not at all. Many of its students, like any art school, did not necessarily go on to careers as professional artists. What are the stakes of the networks established at a school with a transitory population of students and faculty? How do we conceive of influence? What does it look like beyond an institutional model and what is its relationship to the alternative histories of modernism being written today?
Michael Lobel, Professor of Art History, State University of New York, Purchase
Amanda Reeser Lawrence, Assistant Professor of Architectural History, Northeastern University
Renée Green, Artist and Professor Art, Culture, Technology Program, MIT
Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Associate Professor of Art History, Harvard University
1:45- 3:00 PM Comparative Pedagogies and Utopia
Teaching and learning are inherently social processes, offering communal possibilities for a contribution greater than the individual. As an intentional community, Black Mountain was a powerful arbiter of social transformation and foment. Its persistence as a utopian model has circulated through the writings, tellings and histories produced by various participants of the College. Yet part of its success was dependent upon a receptive, nostalgic and like-minded cultural milieu. What were the aftereffects of other educational communities both before and after, such as Pond Farm or Stony Point, and how does Black Mountain’s promise of utopia measure against other models of lived experience?
Anna Craycroft, Artist
Eva Diaz, Assistant Professor, Art History, Pratt Institute
Ezra Shales, Professor of Design History, Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Jenni Sorkin, Assistant Professor, History of Art and Architecture, UCSB
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