The receipt of a major grant for Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC), in Asheville, NC, from the Windgate Charitable Foundation (Siloam Springs, AR) was announced today by BMCM+AC Board Chair J. Richard Gruber. The $646,685 grant will enable the BMCM+AC to embark on a three-year plan to greatly expand and enhance its offerings through exhibitions and displays; conferences and workshops; public programs including performances, readings, and screenings; and a new research and study center. In a building owned by The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design (CCCD)—newly ensconced steps away from the BMCM+AC in downtown Asheville’s vibrant cultural district—BMCM+AC will open a temporary exhibitions gallery and create storage space for the Museum’s growing collection of artwork and materials by faculty and alumni of the profoundly influential Black Mountain College (BMC). The grant also supports educational opportunities including Museum Internship and Design Apprenticeship programs.
Established in 1993, BMCM+AC celebrates the history and legacy of Black Mountain College (1933‒57) and honors its role as a forerunner in progressive, interdisciplinary education with a focus on the arts. The College attracted an extraordinary roster of gifted individuals including Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Francine du Plessix Gray, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Charles Olson, Robert Rauschenberg, M.C. Richards, Cy Twombly, Peter Voulkos, Jonathan Williams, and many others whose impact on the arts continues today.
Dr. Gruber, Board Chair, stated, “Having just celebrated the 80th anniversary of the founding of Black Mountain College and 20th anniversary of BMCM+AC in 2013, we look toward a robust future thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Windgate Charitable Foundation. The Foundation’s support enables the Museum to further enrich its programming and to present more of the collection to the diversity of communities we serve. As with everything we do, the plan sits squarely on the shoulders of the prescient innovators—both teachers and students—who collaborated and experimented at Black Mountain College. Therefore, being able to offer internships and an apprenticeship is especially gratifying. We are additionally delighted to be working with Randy Shull on the master plan for renovating and designing our spaces at the BMCM+AC and across the street at the CCCD, a frequent and stimulating partner.”
Program Director Alice Sebrell said, “BMCM+AC’s new initiatives will build upon Black Mountain College’s legacy of art-centered education and interdisciplinary practice by continuing to offer a broad range of programs for those both well-versed and unfamiliar with its wide-ranging influences. We look forward to further heightening awareness of the extraordinary incubator that was Black Mountain College and how it resonates today among arts and education communities around the globe.”
CCCD Executive Director Stephanie Moore stated, “The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design is delighted to provide space for the growth of the BMCM+AC’s programs and collection. The educational model of Black Mountain College resonates in the interdisciplinary and experimental landscape of craft. The proximity of these two exhibition spaces will allow us to further demonstrate the value of the arts as an indispensable aspect of a general liberal arts education. Our facility at 67 Broadway is becoming a cultural hub in Asheville.”
Asheville-based and internationally recognized artist and designer Randy Shull will serve as designer and fabricator of the overall expansion project including the two related gallery spaces in the BMCM+AC’s facility at 56 Broadway and in the CCCD’s building at 67 Broadway in downtown Asheville’s flourishing arts district. The BMCM+AC gallery at the CCCD building will be devoted to temporary exhibitions while the space at 56 Broadway will feature a rotating display of work from the BMCM+AC’s collection and archive.
The special exhibitions will present work from the BMC era including by well-known alumni and faculty—many central to the emergence of Abstract Expressionism—as well as lesser-known artists and aspects of the College. Additionally, displays will examine the influences and reach of BMC in unexpected places.
The Museum’s collection of paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings, textiles, furniture, pottery, and archival and research material, which has been housed at several off-site locations, will be centralized in a new storage space in the CCCD building.
The original BMCM+AC location at 56 Broadway will host the new Center for Black Mountain College Studies, a research hub where visitors can hear BMC alumni and faculty at oral-history stations, leaf through examples of work from the BMC Print Shop, and, as the College’s students and teachers did, interact with others in a social but academic setting. The building will also house the BMCM+AC’s Institute for the study of Democracy, Education, and the Arts (IDE+A), investigating and continuing the College’s legacy in experiential education, democratic practice, and artistic innovation both separately and in combination. IDE+A will be led by Dr. Brian E. Butler, immediate past Board Chair at BMCM+AC and the University of North Carolina Asheville Thomas Howerton Distinguished Chair of the Humanities.
The new Center will also serve as an orientation point for newcomers to the College’s story as well as a seminal resource for well-versed enthusiasts. A permanent exhibition about BMC, engaging window displays and wall text, multi-media encounters, and café-style seating inspired by Bauhaus and BMC designers will further engage visitors. The space will feature a modular and moveable display system allowing for special events, functional variation, and future growth.
The expansion will also allow the BMCM+AC to extend its current schedule of programs. The sixth international ReVIEWING Black Mountain College Conference devoted to BMC writers, organized in association with the University of North Carolina Asheville, takes place September 26‒28, 2014. Workshops, talks, panel discussions, readings, and performances will examine BMC’s impact on poetry and prose, pedagogy and the writer’s craft, typography and design, and the intersections between the visual and the literary. http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/conference-2014
The first phase of the expansion project will begin in the fall and is expected to be completed in spring 2015.
About Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) was founded in 1993, in Asheville, NC, to preserve and pay tribute to the history and legacy of innovation of Black Mountain College (1933‒57) and to acknowledge the College’s role as a forerunner in progressive, interdisciplinary education with a focus on the arts. With its emphasis on the individual rather than the institution and its striking success in attracting individuals of great talent and originality, the College drew a roster of gifted mavericks, some of whom went on to become well-known and highly influential in the latter half of the 20th century. A partial list includes: Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller,
Francine du Plessix Gray, Karen Karnes, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Kenneth Noland,
Charles Olson, Arthur Penn, Robert Rauschenberg, M.C. Richards, Dorothea Rockburne, Ben Shahn, Cy Twombly, Jonathan Williams and many others who have impacted the world in a significant way.
BMCM+AC’s programming targets both the historical importance of the College and the many ways that its legacy remains relevant and vital today with exhibitions, seminars, panel discussions, publications, film and video screenings, and oral history interviews with surviving BMC faculty and students. www.blackmountaincollege.org
About The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design
Established in 1996, The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design (CCCD) is a national nonprofit organization that advances the understanding of craft by encouraging and supporting research, critical dialogue, and professional development in the United States. CCCD raises funds for programs and outreach to international, national, and regional artists, craft organizations, universities/colleges, and the community. Each year, CCCD administers over a quarter million dollars in grants to those working in the craft field. At the end of January 2014, CCCD relocated to Asheville, NC, and opened Benchspace, a public gallery and workshop for investigating contemporary practices of making in the shifting creative landscape of the 21st century. www.craftcreativitydesign.org
Bow Bridge Communications
Asheville, North Carolina