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Black Mountain College Semester 2018 at Appalachian — March events

By Ellen Gwin Burnette

BOONE, N.C. — Black Mountain College was structured differently than most educational institutions at the time. In 1933, it was founded out of a desire for a more progressive education through the use of art, hands-on learning, close student-faculty interaction and critical thought. As an early example of a liberal arts college, this model has since spread throughout the U.S. and is used at Appalachian State University today.

A liberal arts education emphasizes a well-rounded course of study in the humanities and natural, mathematical and social sciences that aims to impart a broad, general knowledge and develop intellectual capacities adaptable for numerous work and life environments in contrast to a narrowly focused professional, vocational or technical skill.

Embedded in liberal education is the ability to think critically, write and communicate well, separate fact from fiction, understand diverse perspectives and arrive at solutions to complex problems through curiosity. These are the skills employers consistently value most and seek for leaders in their fields, whether it be the humanities, sciences, etc.

At Black Mountain College, they taught students in an interdisciplinary way to solve problems, to explore and learn. Their curriculum involved interactive learning, which is one of the things Appalachian does well. The university has eight Fellows who are incorporating new pedagogies in the classroom this semester and 12 speakers visiting the area to talk about the exploration and impact that Black Mountain College’s perspective on education and art has and continues to have on all of us.


March 1

ArtTALKS with Basil King

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

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 his house in Brooklyn, which he shares with his wife Martha King, also a fellow BMC student.

March 2

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

There will be four exhibitions opening at the Turchin Center: “Creative Democracy: The Legacy of Black Mountain College,” “High Country Herbarium: Preserving Plants & Plant Communities in the Southern Appalachians,” “Department of Art Faculty Biennial,” “The 15th Annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition & Exhibition” and “Pieces of the Puzzle: Turchin Outreach Programs.”

March 15

7 p.m.
114 Belk Library and Information Commons

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. He is currently working on a multimedia history of the farm at Black Mountain College. He has been a 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 first: a collage of photographs of the student-farmers from 1933-34 who founded the farm.

March 22

Sponsored by the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series in Partnership with the Black Mountain College Semester

7:30 p.m.
201B Plemmons Student Union (Table Rock)

Anne Waldman, internationally recognized and acclaimed poet, 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. She will give a reading of her work and talk about the broad influence of BMC on poetics, as well as her relationship with legendary BMC poet and the College’s last rector, Charles Olson. As part of the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series, a Craft Talk “The Creative Rhizome: Generative Practices in Art & Life” will take place at 3:30 p.m. in the Table Rock Room, Plemmons Student Union at Appalachian preceding her evening lecture at the same location at 7:30 p.m.

 March 28

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

6 p.m.

Julie Thomson is an independent scholar and curator who lives in Durham, North Carolina. She has been researching and writing about the Black Mountain College artist, Ray Johnson since 2006 and photographers who were at Black Mountain College since 2015. In 2017 she curated the exhibition, “Begin to See: The Photographers of Black Mountain College” at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Her writing has appeared in Black Mountain College Studies and Raw Vision. 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.