Hazel Larsen Archer, Portrait of M.C. Richards, ca. 1952. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer.

M.C. Richards, Pinch Bowl, ca. 1990s. Stoneware with acrylic paint. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

M.C. Richards (Faculty Literature and Drama 1945-1951) (b.1916-d.1999)

M.C. Richards was many things. She wrote poetry and philosophy, taught, translated, painted, created pottery, and more. She earned her PhD in English from UC Berkeley. Richards had the distinction of being the only female faculty at BMC with a terminal degree. In 1945 she joined the faculty at Black Mountain College where she taught writing, translated plays, danced, studied pottery and founded The Black Mountain Review. She was one of BMC’s most popular faculty members in the late 1940s and later wrote: “I have no criticism of Black Mountain, it was an entirely transforming, maturing and inspiring experience.” While at BMC, Richards played an essential role in maintaining community balance in the wake of Josef and Anni Albers’ resignation and the rise of Charles Olson as the college’s leader during the 1950s.

Richards was a key contributor to Theater Piece No. 1, orchestrated by John Cage. Richards returned to BMC as a student in 1953 where she learned pottery and sculpture. Her experiences at BMC led her to gain an interest in communal living, which she fostered at the Gate Hill Cooperative in Stony Point, NY; Haystack Mountain School in Portland, Maine; and Camphill Village in Copake, NY. Richards taught workshops and lectured at universities and communities until her death in 1999.

Her most well known publications include Centering in Poetry, Pottery, and the Person (1964), The Crossing Point: Selected Talks and Writings (1973) and Towards Wholeness (1980).

Learn more about M.C. Richards through the 2016 BMCM+AC exhibition Centering: Life + Art, 100 Years.