Current Exhibition

Process + Performance

 56 + 69 BROADWAY

September 21 – December 30, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, September 29, 5-7pm – Performance by Martha McDonald at 5:30 pm FREE

 ACTIVE ARCHIVE is a stream of programs that pairs the museum’s extensive collection with contemporary artists, curators, and cultural thinkers. It launches with an exhibition featuring the museum’s permanent collection curated by Philadelphia-based interdisciplinary artist Martha McDonald.

 McDonald brings the ideas of Black Mountain College alive through an exhibition of artwork and ephemera from BMCM+AC’s collection and an installation and live performance drawing on the rich history of experimental performance at BMC.  The exhibition, across both galleries, focuses on the importance of color, process, and material exploration at BMC. It includes student color studies from Josef Albers’ influential Werklehre courses; paintings, sculptures, textiles, and ceramics by BMC faculty and students reflecting this legacy of material and color study; and a selection of idiosyncratic, hand-printed programs highlighting the history of collaborative performance at BMC. 

McDonald’s performance will activate her installation of objects and costumes inspired by Xanti Schawinsky’s 1936-37 experimental theater piece, Spectodrama, which formed the basis of his Stage Studies course at BMC. McDonald’s performance features music inspired by John Evarts’ collaborations with Schawinsky at BMC from 1936-38.

Support for this project has been generously provided by the following: Henry Luce Foundation, North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Windgate Charitable Foundation. Special thanks to Bill Adair and Connie Bostic.

Xanti Schawinsky, Untitled, n.d., painting and pencil on print, 26 x 17.625 inches. Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Collection. Gift of Brian E. Butler.


Upcoming Exhibitions

Begin To See: The Photographers of Black Mountain College

Harry Callahan, Asheville, North Carolina , 1951, 1951 (image) late 1960s (print), gelatin silver print, 7.75 x 11.75 inches. © The Estate of Harry Callahan; Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York. Private Collection.

Jonathan Williams, Beauty and the Beast: Joel Oppenheimer and Francine du Plessix Gray, Black Mountain College, 1951, gelatin silver print, 21.75 x 21.25 inches. Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Collection. Gift of the Artist. Courtesy of Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Collection. Permission to reproduce courtesy of Thomas Meyer.

January 20 – May 20, 2017 {69 Broadway}

Curated by Julie J. Thomson

Purchase Exhibition Catalogue

While thousands of photographs were taken at Black Mountain College there has not been a detailed examination of photography at the College. Begin to See: The Photographers of Black Mountain College will be the first in-depth exhibition and catalog devoted to this topic. Photography began as a workshop at Black Mountain College in the 1930s.

In the 1940s visiting photographers gave some instruction, and starting in 1944 photography courses were offered during the College’s summer sessions. In fall 1949 photography began to be offered as part of the school’s regular curriculum, with former student Hazel-Frieda Larsen being appointed the first full-time instructor in photography. Photographic education at Black Mountain College often focused on learning to see photographically, taking photographs, and the medium’s history.

Begin to See will feature photographs by a variety of artists including Josef Albers, Hazel Larsen Archer, Josef Breitenbach, Harry Callahan, Trude Guermonprez, Robert Haas, Clemens Kalischer, Barbara Morgan, Beaumont Newhall, Nancy Newhall, Andy Oates, Robert Rauschenberg, Aaron Siskind, Cy Twombly, Stan VanDerBeek, Susan Weil, and Jonathan Williams.

Support for this project has been generously provided by the following: North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; O. Wayne Rollins Foundation; Windgate Charitable Foundation; Michael Carlebach + Margot Ammidown; Cynthia + Donald Carson; John E. Cram + Matt Chambers; Andrew Glasgow; and Mary Holden Thompson. Special thanks to Connie Bostic + Susan Rhew Design.

Related Events

Past Exhibitions


April 8 – 29, 2016

Occasionally, when the college atmosphere became too intense, Josef Albers would announce a week-long “interlude” when everyone in the community was expected to take a break from their studies and pursue activities unrelated to their course work. It was a time to recharge, recalibrate and refocus

Ray Spillenger: Rediscovery of a Black Mountain Painter

January 22 – May 21, 2016

Curated by Theodore E. Stebbins Jr.

Ray Spillenger studied with Willem de Kooning and Josef Albers at Black Mountain College during the summer of 1948. This exhibition comprises two decades of his work from the BMC era to the late 1960s. Spillenger’s paintings demonstrate a total commitment to abstraction and a passionate love of color.

SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY: Ray Johnson, Dick Higgins and the making of THE PAPER SNAKE

June 5 – August 22, 2015

Curated by Michael Von Uchtrup

Lost for decades, the production materials from this innovative compendium of Ray Johnson’s mail art were only recently rediscovered, in time for the book’s re-publication and the 50th anniversary of its original 1965 release. Lively, quirky, often comic, the texts and drawings that meander among the book’s pages provide an intimate look at the early work of Ray Johnson (1927-1995) through the eyes of Johnson’s friend Dick Higgins (1938-1998)

poemumbles: 30 years of Susan Weil’s poem/images

January 30 – May 23, 2015

Curated by Brian E. Butler + Rachael Inch

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center celebrates our ReOPENING with special exhibition of work by Susan Weil. Susan Weil is a painter, printmaker and book artist living in New York City. She studied at Académie Julian in Paris before enrolling at Black Mountain College in 1948 and then later at the Art Students League in New York. Weil is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Dan Rice at Black Mountain College: Painter Among the Poets

September 5 – December 27, 2014

Curated by Brian E. Butler

This exhibition showcases the work of the lyrical abstract expressionist painter Dan Rice, a key figure in the ‘40s and ‘50s at Black Mountain College and in the art world centered on New York’s legendary Cedar Tavern. His friends included fellow artists de Kooning, Kline, Rothko, Pollock, Rauschenberg, and many others, along with poets such as Robert Creeley and Charles Olson.

INTERLUDE: A Look at the Collection and Jacqueline Gourevitch: Site Reconstruction

May 29 – August 23, 2014

Our summer exhibition has two components: INTERLUDE showcasing recent or rarely seen additions to our growing collection of artwork and other material related to Black Mountain College and Site Reconstruction, a separate, focused exhibition of paintings of the World Trade Center reconstruction site by New York-based artist and BMC alumna Jacqueline Gourevitch.

Cynthia Homire: Vision Quest

January 24 – May 17, 2014

Curated by Connie Bostic

This exhibition examines the work of poet, potter and visual artist Cynthia Homire, a Black Mountain College alumna, now in her early 80s. Homire was a student at Black Mountain College from 1950-1954, where she studied with Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and M. C. Richards, among many others. The artist will be present at the opening.