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) (b.1923-d.2007)

Elizabeth Schmitt Jennerjahn was the first of five siblings to attend Black Mountain College. Though she originally intended to study stained glass, she changed her focus to dance. 

Jennerjahn first attended Black Mountain College in 1943 and studied art under Josef and Anni Albers. She left in 1945 to study dance with Martha Graham in New York City, but later returned to BMC in 1948 with husband Warren (Pete) Jennerjahn to work with Merce Cunningham. Elizabeth participated as one of the student-teachers, and in 1949 she was involved in the creation of a dance performance which brought to life Federico Garcia Lorca’s poem The Lament for Ignatio Sanchez Mejias. During her years at the college, Elizabeth developed an interest in the multisensory experience of dance performance, incorporating not just music and movement, but light, color, architecture, and technology.

 In 1949 and 1950, Elizabeth and Pete led the Light Sound Movement workshops, which are described by many Black Mountain scholars as an important link between the college’s early Bauhaus-influenced multimedia theater experiments and the historic Happening of 1952. After leaving BMC in 1951, Elizabeth and Pete lived briefly in Paris before settling in New York City and eventually Sedona, AZ, where Elizabeth continued to work. 


Elizabeth Jennerjahn, Cross, ca. 1929, textile. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Gift of W.P. “Pete” Jennerjahn.

Elizabeth Jennerjahn, Untitled, ca. 1960, textile with applied fabric wall hanging. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of W.P. “Pete” Jennerjahn.