Boston Arts: Black Mountain College Exhibition at the ICA Boston

by Lacy Tell

Last week, I visited the ICA Boston show, “Look Before You Leap”, by the artists of Black Mountain College. After viewing the show, I wanted to learn more about the college and its history. 

“Minutiae” by Robert Rauschenberg

Minutiae” by Robert Rauschenberg

Black Mountain College was founded in 1933 in the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina. It was an experimental school formed to create the “complete” self-sufficient person in the pre-depression life in America. John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier and other former faculty members of Rollins College in Florida formed it around the idea of having a liberal arts college to bring culture back to America and revolutionize art of the time. It put the arts, including dance, sculpture, pottery, paining, music, dance, and poetry, at the center of education. Black Mountain College became a “utopian community” of creative expression fostering connections between art, democracy, and globalism. 

1948 Buckminster Fuller Architecture Class at Black Mountain College, Photo courtesy of whitehotmagazine.com

1948 Buckminster Fuller Architecture Class at Black Mountain College, Photo courtesy of whitehotmagazine.com

During WWII, many refugees were attracted to the ideals of the Black Mountain College. The college attracted now famous artists and thinkers of the time including, Waler Gropius, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, John Cage, Alfred Kazin, Merce Cunningham, and Paul Goodman. 

As time went on, and America was progressing, most of the students and faculty members of Black Mountain College left for San Francisco and New York. After 23 years, the school closed its doors. 

One of my favorite pieces at the exhibit was titled “Minutiae” by Robert Rauschenberg. I love his use of mixed media, including oil, paper, fabric, newspaper, wood, metal, plastic, mirror, and string on wood structure. It was a sculpture was used as the center of a dance piece done at the college. It represents the community that the BMC was trying to foster of intertwining all art forms. 

"Untitled" by Joseph Fiore

"Untitled" by Joseph Fiore

The exhibition is running from October 10, 2015 - January 24, 2016, don’t miss it!