Carter Hansell at Two Rivers School with a Geodesic Dome. Photo by Tom Hansell

Creative Democracy: The Legacy of Black Mountain College

Friday, January 12, 2018
Friday, March 2, 2018 (6:00pm - 10:00pm)
Saturday, June 2, 2018
Main Gallery
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As part of the campus-wide celebration of the historical legacy of Black Mountain College (BMC) at Appalachian State University during the Spring 2018 semester, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts will host, Creative Democracy: The Legacy of Black Mountain College featuring a selection of art and artifacts from Black Mountain College artists and writers. During its shimmering, stormy history, many of the nation’s greatest thinkers and artists were in residence or paid visits to Black Mountain.

Black Mountain College (1933-1957) near Asheville, in North Carolina’s rural Swannanoa Valley, was an early leader of progressive, experimental education in the twentieth century. Influential writers, visual artists, dancers, designers, and music composers instilled in their students and colleagues many of the same values upheld by Appalachian State University today: learning by doing, collaborative learning, and education for social justice and democracy. Not only a mecca of the arts, Black Mountain produced some of America’s most profound innovators in education, science, social work, architecture, urban planning, psychiatry, history, and politics. All of those who passed through the college were encouraged to become citizens of social consciousness who put into daily practice a creative freedom in judgment and action.

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Joseph Alber's Black Mountain College logo. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives

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Elaine de Kooning and Buckminster Fuller's Venetian Blind Strip Dome. 1948 Summer Session in the Arts at Black Mountain College. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives

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Buckminster Fuller and his architecture class. 1949 Summer Institute. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives

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Buckminster Fuller's architecture class. 1949 Summer Institute. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives

Led by the Center for Appalachian Studies, Professor of Creative Writing and emeritus NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti, and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, the Black Mountain College Semester (Spring 2018) addresses the legacy of Black Mountain College through three interrelated projects: a multi-sited exhibition series; a special Black Mountain College issue of Appalachian Journal guest edited by Joseph Bathanti in collaboration with Appalachian Journal editor-in-chief, Sandra Ballard and Savannah Paige Murray featuring prominent voices associated with BMC; and a multipurpose digital timeline containing a museum guide, original scholarly resources, and curricular materials designed for North Carolina schools. A semester-long series of lectures, readings, workshops, film screenings, and special courses on Black Mountain College invite public education and academic inquiry, extended by web-streaming and online archiving. Importantly, a cross-section of students and faculty at Appalachian State will contribute to the project’s research and exhibition assets in the mold of collaborative learning at Black Mountain College.

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Follow Black Mountain College Semester on Instagram at @BlackMountainatASU.

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Demonstrating how to build a geodesic dome with pencils.

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Building a geodesic dome.

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Enjoying the finished dome.

Black Mountain College Semester Schedule of Events

Venues & Locations (please see individual events for times):

  • Turchin Center for the Visual Arts (TCVA): 423 West King Street, Boone, NC 28608
  • Blowing Rock Art and History Museum (BRAHM): 159 Chestnut Street, Blowing Rock, NC 28605
  • Belk Library: Appalachian State University, 218 College St., Boone, NC 28607
  • Swannanoa Valley Museum (SVM): 223 West State Street, Black Mountain, NC 28711
November 24, 2017

Black Mountain College exhibition opens at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum
Exhibition closes April 7, 2018.

November 30, 2017

Winter Exhibition Celebration at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum
5 - 7:30 p.m.

December 12, 2017

BRAHM: Coffee with the Curator
featuring Black Mountain College
11 a.m.

January 12, 2018

Black Mountain College digital timeline goes live

January 18, 2018

BRAHM: Movies at the Museum - MC Richards: The Fire Within
7 p.m.
Free for Museum Members, $5 students with ID, seniors, active military, EBT cardholders, $7 general admission

January 19, 2018

Students and faculty building geodesic domes on the Appalachian State University campus

January 24, 2018

Speaker Cathryn Zommer
Belk Library, Room 114
7 p.m.

Cathryn Zommer is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a certified Holistic Health Counselor and she has a White Belt in Nia. Along with Nealy House, she made the Black Mountain College film, Fully Awake: Black Mountain College, which came out in 2008. She is currently the Executive Director of Enough Pie, a non-profit catalyzing community engagement through creativity in Charleston's Upper Peninsula.

February 1, 2018

BRAHM: TAC Talk with Joseph Bathanti
6 p.m.

Joseph Bathanti is a former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and is the author of sixteen books of award-winning poetry. Bathanti is a Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

February 14, 2018

Speaker Dr. Katherine Chaddock
Belk Library, Room 114
7 p.m.

Dr. Katherine Chaddock is the biographer of John Andrew Rice, the founder of Black Mountain College, and the author of Visions and Vanities: John Andrew Rice of Black Mountain College (Louisiana State University Press, 1998). She is currently Distinguished Professor Emerita of the University of South Carolina.

February 15, 2018

BRAHM: TAC Talk with Alice Sebrell
6 p.m.

Alice Sebrell earned her MFA in Photography from The Savannah College of Art and Design and her BFA from the University of Delaware. She has worked for the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center since 1999 and is currently the Program Director for the organization.

February 21, 2018

Speaker Tom Meyer
Belk Library, Room 114
7 p.m.

Tom Meyer was the partner of the late Black Mountain College poet and founder of Jargon Press, Jonathan Williams. Meyer worked with Williams on Jargon projects for many years and has several books of his own poetry published under the Jargon imprint. Additionally, Meyer's work as a poet and translator has been widely published and acknowledged for its precision and depth of feeling.

February 22, 2018

BRAHM: Scholars & Scones with Dr. Clark Maddux
11 a.m.

Dr. Clark Maddux earned his PhD in American Studies from Purdue University in 2001. He was named the Director of Watauga Residential College at Appalachian State University in July of 2014. Committed to student success and academic excellence, Dr. Maddux has taught undergraduate and graduate courses ranging from first year seminar to early American literature and philosophy. Dr. Maddux is the editor for Ezra through the Psalms and the co-editor, with Professor Rick Kennedy from Point Loma Nazarene University and Paul Peterson of the University of Heidelberg, for John and Acts.

February 28, 2018

TVCA: Frank Hursh
Turchin Center Lecture Hall
6 p.m.

Frank Hursh is a painter and alum of Black Mountain College.

March 1, 2018

TVCA: Basil King
Turchin Center Lecture Hall
6 p.m.

Basil King is a poet and a prolific visual artist who was a student at Black Mountain College. He often explains his art by saying: “from the abstract to the figure, from the figure to the abstract makes an edge of exquisite distance and distance gives us our sensations.” Today he goes back and forth between painting and writing, on two different floors of the house in Brooklyn he shares with his wife Martha King, fellow BMC student.

March 2, 2018

Spring Exhibition Celebration at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts
6 - 10 p.m. in conjunction with the Town of Boone First Friday Art Walk

March 15, 2018

Speaker: David Silver
Belk Library, Room 114
7 p.m.

David Silver is an associate professor of media studies and environmental studies and coordinator of the urban agriculture minor at San Francisco State University. David teaches classes on media history, social media production, and food and media, and is currently working on a multimedia history of the farm at Black Mountain College. He has been scholar-in-residence at North Carolina State University and worked with NCSU’s library and IT staff to design multiple video walls to accompany his talk on the founding of the farm at Black Mountain College. He assembled a first: a collage of photographs of the student-farmers from 1933-34 who founded the farm.

March 22, 2018

Speaker: Anne Waldman
Appalachian State University, Table Rock Room, Plemmons Student Union
7:30 p.m.

Anne Waldman is an internationally recognized and acclaimed poet who has been an active member of the “Outrider” experimental poetry community, a culture she has helped create and nurture for over four decades. Her poetry is recognized in the lineage of Whitman and Ginsberg, and in the Beat, New York School and Black Mountain trajectories of the New American Poetry. She is the author of more than 40 books, including the mini-classic Fast Speaking Woman. She co-founded with Allen Ginsberg of the celebrated Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University where she is Distinguished Professor of Poetics. She is the editor of Nice to See You, an homage to poet Ted Berrigan, The Beat Book, and co-editor of The Angel Hair Anthology. Waldman is a recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, and has recently been appointed a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets.

March 28, 2018

TVCA: Julie Thomson
Turchin Center Lecture Hall
6 p.m.

Julie Thomson is an independent scholar and curator who has been researching and writing about the Black Mountain College artist, Ray Johnson since 2006. She is also interested in photography and Black Mountain College. Her writing has appeared in Black Mountain College Studies, the Independent Weekly, Raw Vision, Art Lies, and ...might be good. She has an M.A. in Art History from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was a Critical Studies Fellow in the Core Program, Museum of Fine Arts Houston in 2010-2011.

April 4, 2018

Speaker: Mary Emma Harris
Belk Library, Room 114
7 p.m.

Mary Emma Harris has long been regarded one of the most prominent scholars of Black Mountain College. Her 1987 watershed tour de force, The Arts at Black Mountain College is one of the most indisputably influential publications on the history of Black Mountain College. In 1999 Harris founded the Black Mountain College Project, a not-for-profit corporation registered in New York State, to document and preserve the history of the college.

April 7, 2018

BRAHM Black Mountain College exhibit ends

April 11, 2018

Speaker: Lucy Massie Phenix
Belk Library, Room 114
7 p.m.

Lucy Massie Phenix created the 2008 award-winning film, Don’t Know, We’ll See: The Work of Karen Karnes, that explores the poetry and mystery of the life and work of master clay artist, Karen Karnes, who studied and taught at Black Mountain College.

April 18, 2018

TVCA: Alice Sebrell
Turchin Center Lecture Hall
6 p.m.

Alice Sebrell earned her MFA in Photography from The Savannah College of Art and Design and her BFA from the University of Delaware. She has worked for the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center since 1999 and is currently the Program Director for the organization.

June 2, 2018

TCVA exhibition ends; geodesic domes taken down

July 2018

SVM Black Mountain College exhibition begins; travel to Black Mountain to rebuild dome(s)

December 2018

SVM Black Mountain College exhibition ends

Related events

Mar 2 6:00pm - 10:00pm Exhibition Celebration

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Gallery hours

The Turchin Center will be closed Dec. 17, 2017 - Jan. 8, 2018 for the holidays.

Holiday closings

The Turchin Center will be closed Dec. 17, 2017 - Jan. 8, 2018 for the holidays. We will resume normal operating hours on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.

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ASU Box 32139
Boone, NC 28608

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