January 24th – August 15th, 2020

QUESTION EVERYTHING!

The Women of Black Mountain College

Freedom. 

Freedom to walk barefoot, to wear old clothes and have long hair, to have a sex life – but beyond all that to have a freedom the other side of which was (is) responsibility. And that had two sides: a responsibility to listen to the inner voice and labor to follow one’s own deepest and truest desires, and a responsibility to give to, and not just take from the school which made such choices possible for us in that place. – Mary Fitton Fiore (Alumna, 1949-1956) 

 

In the midst of modernism, when the foundations of culture were under question, prompted by war and global crises, women were able to make space for themselves in mediums, movements, and institutions where previously there was little or none. Black Mountain College (1933-1957) was a place where women were expected to question things, to think critically, and to explore their own self-determinacy. Each story is her own, with glimpses to be seen through her words, images, and ongoing work. 

They came to Black Mountain College from diverse circumstances and backgrounds: as refugees escaping persecution in Europe; as promising students who wanted and needed something more; as educators seeking a new way to teach; as resourceful staff looking for meaningful work; as poets, potters, painters, and performers searching for peers and mentors. Where some found refuge and community, others found great personal and professional challenges. For many, their time at Black Mountain provided a critical catalyst for growth and a profound connection to something substantive and life-altering…freedom.  

Establishing themselves in New York, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Boston and beyond, they carried the Black Mountain spirit with them as artists, writers, scientists, mothers, educators, and mentors. This new generation went forward with a strong sense of what it meant to be a woman in the 20th century, forging new paths for themselves and those who followed. Question Everything! looks at some of these women of Black Mountain College, recognizing their significance to the history of the college and beyond.   

 

Curated by Kate Averett + Alice Sebrell  

This exhibition received support from The Beattie Foundation, John Byrd + Ellen Clarke, Marion L. Johnson Church, Mr. + Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation, Thomas Frank, and the Windgate Charitable Foundation. 

Special thanks to: BMCM+AC Board of Directors, The Britton family, Connie Bostic, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Sarah Downing, Johanna Engebrecht, Katherine French, Suzi Gablik, Lorrie Goulet, Rob Hazelgrove + Dan McLawhorn, Hudson + Terry Lanier, Rebecca Lowell, Michael Manes, The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation, Donna Marie Perkins, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Jo Sandman, Susan Rhew Design, Heather South, Western Regional Archives, and Erika Zarow.  

Photographs by Michael Oppenheim

Press for Question Everything!

Research Resources

About BMCM+AC

Explore the Exhibition

Weaving Workshop

BMC + Beyond

Women in Craft

Everyday Life

Performance

Education 

Black Mountain College Films

Never before exhibited, these films were created by Black Mountain College photography instructor Hazel-Frieda Larsen Archer and her students. They were restored and digitized in 2018 through the efforts of BMCM+AC and the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer. Made in the early 1950s, these 8mm and 16mm films range from evocative visual studies of the Lake Eden BMC campus and its landscape to daily life at the college, dance and performance for the camera, and experimentation with scratched and altered film stock. These films give a rare, immersive view into the college community and into Larsen’s perspective as an educator and artist. For inquiries, please contact info@blackmountaincollege.org

 

In Their Own Words

The work study program at BMC appealed to me and the photo of the girl on the tractor. It could have been that same girl who picked me up at the train station in a truck. She said, ‘Would you like to go with me to pick up a load of coal?’ I said, ‘yes.’ After unloading my trunk and other belongings, I quickly changed into pants and boots. Off we went to the railroad yard. From the coal car we shoveled a load into the truck. I felt I had really arrived! – Lynn Bales (Student 1944-1945)

Students Lisa Jalowetz and Barbara Sieck painting a set for “Ah Wilderness” by Eugene ONeill, Spring 1940. Courtesy of the Western Regional Archives Black Mountain College collection.

The Women of Black Mountain College

Get to know the faculty, staff, and alumna featured in this exhibition.

Alumna, faculty and staff will be added on an ongoing basis.

Janet Heling Roberts

Janet Heling Roberts

Hazel Larsen Archer, Janet Heling Roberts at Black Mountain College, 1945. Silver gelatin print. BMCM+AC permanent collection. Gift of Janet Heling Roberts. Janet Chloe Heling Roberts (Student 1943 - 1977, b. 1925 d. 2020) Born in 1925 in Lindenhurst, New York, Jan...

Francine du Plessix Gray

Francine du Plessix Gray

Jonathan Williams, Francine du Plessix Gray (Cornwall Bridge, CT), 1969. Type C print. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Jonathan Williams.Francine du Plessix Gray grew up with a troubled childhood which she chronicled Them: a memoir...

Diana Woelffer

Diana Woelffer

Diana Woelffer, Cora Kelley Ward, 1949. Vintage gelatin silver print. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Maurice Badon. Diana Woelffer (Faculty Spouse, Assisted with Photography classes 1949 Summer Session) (b.1907-d.1990) Diana...

Elaine Schmitt Urbain

Elaine Schmitt Urbain

Above: Elaine and John Urbain | Right: Elaine Schmitt Urbain, Portrait of Josef Albers, ca. 1990s. Ink on paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Michael Urbain. Elaine Schmitt Urbain (Student 1946-1950) (b.1925-d.2004) Artist and...

Elvine “V.V.” Rankine

Elvine “V.V.” Rankine

Elvine “V.V.” Rankine, Totem (Sculpture), 1991. Acrylic on wood. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of David Rankine. ​ V.V. Rankine worked under and was and known by many names including E.R. (Elvine Richard) Rankine and Vivian Scott...

Cora Kelley Ward

Cora Kelley Ward

Cora Kelley Ward, Untitled, 1950. Watercolor on paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Estate of Cora Kelley Ward.Cora Kelley Ward (Student 1949 and 1950 Summer Session) (b.1920-d.1989) Cora Kelley Ward was a painter and...

Jacqueline Hermann Gourevitch

Jacqueline Hermann Gourevitch

Jacqueline Hermann Gourevitch, Clouds (Watercolor on paper, 10 x 7 inches) 2004. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the artist.  At the age of 16, Jacqueline Hermann heard about Black Mountain College while at the High School of...

Natasha Goldowski Renner

Natasha Goldowski Renner

Marie Tavroges Stilkind, Natasha Goldowski, 1953. Gelatin silver print. Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Collection. Gift of Marie Tavroges Stilkind. Natasha Goldowski Renner (Faculty in Chemistry and Physics 1947–1953) (b.1907–d.1966) Born in Russia,...

Trude Guermonprez

Trude Guermonprez

Nancy Newhall, Trude Guermonprez at Black Mountain College, ca. 1948. Courtesy of the Western Regional Archives. Trude Guermonprez (Faculty in Weaving 1947–1949) (b.1910–d.1976) Trude Guermonprez was born in Poland in 1910. Trude studied weaving with Benita Otte-Kuch,...

Hazel Larsen Archer

Hazel Larsen Archer

Hazel Larsen Archer, Untitled (Ray Johnson in his study), ca. 1945-48. Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer. Hazel Larsen Archer (Student 1944-1948, Faculty Photography 1949-1953) (b.1921-d.2001) Hazel Larsen Archer experienced life at BMC as a student,...

M.C. Richards

M.C. Richards

Hazel Larsen Archer, Portrait of M.C. Richards, ca. 1952. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer.M.C. Richards, Orange Pinch Bowl, ca. 1990s. Stoneware with acrylic paint. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of...

Suzi Gablik

Suzi Gablik

Suzi Gablik, Tropism #9, 1970. Collage & oil paint on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Suzi Gablik, Tropism #5, ca. 1970s. Collage and oil on canvas. Collection of the Artist.Suzi Gablik (Student...

Barbara Stone Rice

Barbara Stone Rice

Barbara Stone Rice, Weaving, ca. 1948. Cotton warp and wool woof, later made into a garment. Collection of Megan Rice.Barbara Stone Rice (Student 1948-1949 and 1952-1953) (b.1925-d.2008) Barbara Stone Rice was a student of Anni Albers during her final years leading...

Mary Fitton Fiore

Mary Fitton Fiore

Mary Fitton Fiore, Nick, n.d. Ink on paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Mary Fitton Fiore (Student 1949-1956) (b.1924-d.2017) Mary Fitton first became interested in attending Black Mountain College after seeing an ad...

Wanda Lea Austin

Wanda Lea Austin

Wanda Lea Austin, Untitled, no date. Oil on canvas. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Estate of Wanda Lea Austin.Wanda Lea Austin (b.1926-d.2006) Wanda Lea Austin, an Illinois native, graduated from the Evanston Collegiate...

Marianne Preger-Simon

Marianne Preger-Simon

Marianne Preger-Simon, Merce Cunningham Company: Black Mountain Beginnings, Summer 1953. Photocopy of drawings (copies). Collection of Black Mountain  College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Marianne Preger-Simon (Student 1953 Summer Session) (b.1929) Dancer...

Karen Karnes

Karen Karnes

Karen Karnes and David Weinrib, Coil-built Fireplace, ca. 1975. Stoneware and iron grate. Collection of Black Mountain College  Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Abel WeinribKaren Karnes (Faculty and Resident in Ceramics 1952-1954) (b.1925-d.2016) Karen Karnes was a...

Hilda Morley

Hilda Morley

Hilda Morley, The Wild Cherry Tree, 1960Hilda Morley (Faculty Literature and Hebrew 1952-1956) (b.1916-d.1998) Hilda Morley came to teach at Black Mountain College with...

Dorothea Rockburne

Dorothea Rockburne

Dorothea Rockburne, Shadowed Perimeter, 2004 – 2008, Edition 63/70. Etching and silkscreen on Somerset paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Marie Tavroges Stilkind, Dorothea Rockburne, ca. 1952. Vintage gelatin silver...

Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence

Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence

Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence, Lullaby, 1992. Offset lithograph on paper. Collection of  Connie Bostic.Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence (Faculty Spouse, Informal Dance Instructor 1946 Summer Session) (b.1913-d.2005) Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence was born in Barbados and moved to the...

Susan Weil

Susan Weil

Hazel Larsen Archer, Portrait of Susan Weil, ca. 1948. Vintage gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer.Susan Weil, Musical Chairs, 1995. Acrylic on paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center . Gift of the ArtistSusan...

Jo Sandman

Jo Sandman

Jo Sandman, Untitled, 1952. Oil on canvas. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts  Center. Gift of the Artist Jo Sandman (Student 1951 Summer Session) (b.1931) Boston-based artist Jo Sandman’s practice has explored painting, drawing, experimental...

Cornelia “Nell” Goldsmith

Cornelia “Nell” Goldsmith

Nell GoldsmithHeyns (Student 1942-1944) (b.1924-d.2011), Self-portrait at Studies Building, ca. 1943 -1944. Archival pigment print from a digital scan of a color slide. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives, State of North Carolina. Cornelia “Nell” Goldsmith (Heyns)...

Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen

Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen

Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen Above: Untitled (Guitar), 1945. Oil on cardboard. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. | Below: Footnotes on the year 1944, ca. 1995. Ink on paper. Collection of Black  Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of...

Faith Murray Britton

Faith Murray Britton

Faith Murray Britton, Untitled, n.d. Tempera paint on paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Faith Murray Britton (Student 1941-1942) (b.1922-d.1983) The Weaver, painted by alumna Faith Murray Britton in the summer of 1942...

Mim Sihvonen

Mim Sihvonen

Mim Sihvonen, Wooden Plates made at Black Mountain College, n.d. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Mim Sihvonen, Stool made at Black Mountain College, 1948. Maple. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center....

Elaine de Kooning

Elaine de Kooning

Elaine de Kooning, Fairfield Porter, 1956. Ink and casein on paper. Collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Gift of Helen Porter and Jim Dyke, 2017.50Clemens Kalischer (Visiting Photographer 1948 and 1954) (b.1921-d.2018), William...

Lore Kadden Lindenfeld

Lore Kadden Lindenfeld

Lore Kadden Lindenfeld, Weaving Sample with Diagram, ca. 1948. Textile and paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Lore Kadden Lindenfeld (Student 1945-1948) (b.1921-d.2010) Lore Kadden came to the United States with her...

Ursula Mamlok

Ursula Mamlok

Ursula Mamlok, courtesy of the Dwight and Ursula Mamlok Foundation. "I went one summer to a music institute at Black Mountain College, and there assembled all the European refugees. A big festival of Schönberg's 75th birthday was celebrated, 1944, and they played...

Anni Albers

Anni Albers

Hazel Larsen Archer, Portrait of Anni Albers, ca. 1948. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer. Anni Albers (Faculty Weaving and Textile Design 1933-1949) (b.1899-d.1994) Anni Albers arrived at the Bauhaus in 1922, intending to study the...

Ruth Asawa

Ruth Asawa

Ruth Asawa, Untitled (S.373, Hanging Six-Lobed, Multilayered Interlocking Continuous Form within a Form), 1954. Enameled and oxidized copper wire. Collection of Black Mountain  College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Lorna Blaine Halper.Ruth Asawa (Student 1946-1949)...

Ingeborg Lauterstein

Ingeborg Lauterstein

Trude Guermonprez, Ingeborg Lauterstein wearing centaur costume designed by Rauschenberg, Black Mountain College, 1949. Collection of Black  Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Ingeborg Lauterstein (Student 1948-1949) (b.1923-d.2012) Ingeborg Lauterstein, known as...

Patsy Lynch Wood

Patsy Lynch Wood

Nell Goldsmith, Patsy Lynch, ca. 1943 -1944. Archival pigment print from a digital scan of a color slide. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives, State of North Carolina.  [The Satie Festival] proved to be a totally different musical experience from the years...

Fannie Hillsmith

Fannie Hillsmith

Fannie Hillsmith, Sea Gate, 1966. Oil on canvas. Collection of Black Mountain College  Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Mary Holden Thompson.Fannie Hillsmith (Faculty Painting 1945 Summer Session) (b.1911-d.2007) Fannie Hillsmith grew up in Boston, the granddaughter of a...

Molly Gregory

Molly Gregory

Josef Breitenbach, Molly Gregory woodworking class, n.d. Archival pigment print from a digital scan. Western Regional  Archives, Black Mountain College Research Project Collection.Molly Gregory (Apprentice Teacher 1940-1941, Faculty in Woodworking 1941-Summer 1947)...

Cynthia Homire

Cynthia Homire

Cynthia Homire, Untitled Sketches, 1989. Pencil on paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Cynthia Homire (Student 1950-1953) (b.1931-d.2019), Cynthia Homire received a progressive education at the Windsor Mountain School...

Evelyn Williams Anselevicius

Evelyn Williams Anselevicius

Evelyn Williams Anselevicius, Untitled from the Geodesic Series, ca. 1970s. Tapestry. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Wes Rousser.Evelyn Williams Anselevicius (Student 1947) (b.1923-d.2003) Evelyn Anselevicius was an internationally...

Susan Moore

Susan Moore

Susan Moore, A Sketch, n.d. Graphite on paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Susan Carson. Susan Moore (Student 1946 Summer Session) (b.1926-d.2013) Susan Moore grew up in Williamston, NC, and attended Salem College. While at BMC...

Elizabeth Jennerjahn

Elizabeth Jennerjahn

W.P. “Pete” Jennerjahn, Elizabeth Jennerjahn dancing at Black Mountain College, n.d. Archival pigment print from a digital scan. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.Elizabeth Jennerjahn (Student 1943-1944, Student Teacher and Resident 1948-1951)...

Viola Farber

Viola Farber

Marianne Preger-Simon, Merce Cunningham Company: Black Mountain Beginnings, Summer 1953 (Viola Farber at far left), Photographs and drawings (copies). Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist. Viola Farber (Student 1951 and 1953...

Vera Baker Williams

Vera Baker Williams

Vera Baker Williams at BMC, ca. 1947. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Nancy Miller Archer.  Vera Baker Williams (Student 1945-1950) (b.1927-d.2015) Vera Baker Williams attended BMC from 1945-1950 when she became one of the few to...

Pat Passlof

Pat Passlof

Alice Sebrell, Pat Passlof in her studio on Manhattan's Lower East Side, 2010. Pat Passlof, Eighth House #18, 2003. Oil on linen. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation.Pat Passlof (Student 1948...

Mary Parks Washington

Mary Parks Washington

Mary Parks Washington, Dancing Woman, 1946. Mixed media collage. Collection of Jan Washington.Mary Parks Washington, Untitled (Black Mountain College histcollage), ca.1995. Mixed media / watercolor and newsprint on paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum +...

Betty Brett

Betty Brett

Wilfrid G. Hamlin, From the Black Mountain College Journal of Elizabeth B. Hamlin, 1999. Photocopies. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist. Will Hamlin and Betty Brett were BMC students in the early 1940s. Betty was a poet,...