Black Mountain College

Black Mountain College
Black Mountain College seal.jpg
TypeLiberal arts college
Active1933–1957
DirectorJohn Andrew Rice (until 1940)
Administrative staff
about 30
Studentsabout 1,200 total
Location, ,
Black Mountain College Historic District
Black Mountain College is located in North Carolina
Black Mountain College
Black Mountain College is located in the US
Black Mountain College
Nearest city82001281[1]
Added to NRHPOctober 5, 1982
Buckminster Fuller and students assemble a geodesic dome, 1948

Black Mountain College was an experimental college founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier, and several others. Based in Black Mountain, North Carolina, the school was ideologically organized around John Dewey's principles of education, which emphasized holistic learning and the study of art as central to a liberal arts education.[2] Many of the school's faculty and students were or would go on to become highly influential in the arts, including Josef and Anni Albers, Charles Olson, Ruth Asawa, Walter Gropius, Ray Johnson, Robert Motherwell, Dorothea Rockburne, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Franz Kline, Willem and Elaine de Kooning and Allen Ginsberg. Although it was quite notable during its lifetime, the school closed in 1957 after 24 years due to funding issues. The history and legacy of Black Mountain College are preserved and extended by the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center located in downtown Asheville, NC.[3]

History

Black Mountain was founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier, Frederick Georgia, and Ralph Lounsbury, who were controversially dismissed as faculty from Rollins College for refusing to sign a loyalty pledge.[4] Black Mountain was experimental in nature and committed to an interdisciplinary approach, prioritizing art making as a necessary component of education and attracting a faculty and lecturers that included many of America's leading visual artists, composers, poets, and designers.[5] During the 1930s and 1940s the school flourished, becoming well known as an incubator for artistic talent. Notable events at the school were common; it was here that the first large-scale geodesic dome was made by faculty member Buckminster Fuller and students, where Merce Cunningham formed his dance company, and where John Cage staged his first musical happening.[6]

Additionally, the College was an important incubator for the American avant-garde. Black Mountain proved to be an important precursor to and prototype for many of the alternative colleges of today, ranging from College of the Atlantic, Naropa University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Marlboro College to Evergreen State College, Hampshire College, Shimer College, Prescott College, Goddard College, World College West (1973-1992), and New College of Florida, among others, including Warren Wilson College located just minutes down the road from where Black Mountain College was located. Bennington College, based on the same philosophy, was founded one year before Black Mountain College.