Curated by Kate Averett and Alice Sebrell

April 9 – August 14, 2021

BMCM+AC presents the exhibition I AM A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD, featuring historic works from BMC artists alongside contemporary responses from artists working locally and across the globe.

Black Mountain College’s identity was formed by its uniquely global influences, with students, faculty, and staff hailing from over 20 countries across Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Mediterranean. First and second-generation immigrants carried with them their traditions, perspectives, and languages. Students were encouraged to participate in world affairs and to advocate for the greater good. To be a part of Black Mountain College was to be a citizen of the world.

Artists working today embrace increasingly global networks to unpack fraught notions of citizenship and national identity by imagining frameworks to implicate and navigate systems of violence, break down borders, and grapple with evolving notions of self. The contemporary responses featured in this exhibition ask us to examine our preconceived ideas of citizenship and our responsibility to one another.

This exhibition features historic works by BMC artists including Josef and Anni Albers, Leo Amino, Ruth Asawa, Ilya Bolotowsky, Jack Tworkov, Jean Varda, and more. Contemporary responses include works from Iván Argote, Onicas Gaddis, Steve Locke, Mateo López, Sherrill Roland, Southern Equality Studios (Liz Williams and Al Murray), Javier Téllez, and Grace Villamil.

With thanks to The Windgate Foundation, Diamond Brand Gear, and lenders at The Johnson Collection; LaMontagne Gallery; the private collections of Matt Chambers and John Cram, Hedy Fischer and Randy Shull.

Explore the Exhibition

Featured Black Mountain College Alumni and Faculty

Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence, Black Mountain College, 1946. Photograph by Nancy Newhall.Jacob Lawrence, “Windows,” 1977. Silkscreen, ed. 70/300. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence.Jacob Lawrence...

Joseph Fiore

Joseph Fiore

Joseph Fiore, “#7-54 The Gathering,” 1954. Oil on canvas. Collection of Matt Chambers and John Cram.Joseph Fiore, "Ducks on Lake Eden," 1947. Oil on cardboard. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Janet Heling Roberts.Joseph Fiore (b....

Ingeborg Lauterstein

Ingeborg Lauterstein

Ingeborg Lauterstein, “Portrait of Sewell Sillman,” c. 1948-49. Oil on masonite. Courtesy of The Johnson Collection.Ingeborg Lauterstein (Student 1948-1949) (b.1923-d.2012) Ingeborg Lauterstein, known as Inga, was born in Vienna, Austria, and lived there during...

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)...

Josef Albers

Josef Albers

Josef Albers, “Variant/Adobe,” 1947. Oil on blotting paper. Collection of Hedy Fischer + Randy Shull.Josef Albers, "Formula Articulation, Portfolio I, Folder 17," 1972. 15 x 40 inches (paper) 8.5 x 17 inches (ea. image), © Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Ives-Sillman, Inc....

Anni Albers

Anni Albers

Anni Albers, “Study for Nylon Rug from Connections,” 1959/1983. Silkscreen on paper, ed. 60/125. Courtesy of The Johnson Collection.Anni Albers (Faculty Weaving and Textile Design 1933-1949) (b.1899-d.1994) Anni Fleischman arrived at the Bauhaus in 1922, intending to...

Leo Amino

Leo Amino

Leo Amino, “Transfigured,” 1950. Resin with mixed materials. The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina.Leo Amino (b. 1911 Taiwan, Japan - d. 1989 New York, NY)  Leo Amino immigrated to the US from Japan in 1929. Briefly in 1937, he studied wood carving with...

Yella Pessl

Yella Pessl

Unknown photographer, Yella Pessl (b. 1906 Vienna, Austria - d. 1991 Northampton, MA). Digital print from scan. Western Regional Archives, State Archives of NC.Yella Pessl (b. 1906 Vienna, Austria - d. 1991 Northampton, MA) Austrian-born American harpsichordist,...

Quentin Kyles Miller

Quentin Kyles Miller

Quentin Kyles Miller (b. 1925 Asheville, NC - d. 1992 Asheville, NC) Application to BMC, 1947. Digital print from archival scan. Western Regional Archives, State Archives of NC.Quentin Kyles Miller (b. 1925 Asheville, NC - d. 1992 Asheville, NC)  Quentin Kyles Miller...

Kirill Chenkin

Kirill Chenkin

Unknown photographer, Kirill Chenkin (b. 1916 Petrograd, Russia – d. 2008 Munich, Germany). Digital print from scan. Western Regional Archives, State Archives of NC.Kirill Chenkin (b. 1916 Petrograd, Russia – d. 2008 Munich, Germany) Kirill Chenkin (Khenkin) would...

Shōji Hamada

Shōji Hamada

Shōji Hamada, “Bowl,” ca. 1952. Glazed stoneware. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Betty Kuhn.Shōji Hamada (b. 1894 Tokyo, Japan - d. 1978 Mashiko, Japan) Japanese potter Shōji Hamada played a pivotal role in the establishment of the...

Jean Varda

Jean Varda

Jean Varda, “Veiled Figures.” Fabric, textile, and mixed media collage on board. The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina.Jean Varda (b. 1893 Smyrna, Turkey - d. 1971 Mexico City, Mexico) Jean Varda was a charismatic painter, collage and mosaic artist born...

Xanti Schawinsky

Xanti Schawinsky

Helen M. Post, "Xanti Schawinsky's Spectodrama," 1936-1937. Collection of Michael Reid.Xanti Schawinsky (b. 1904 Basel, Switzerland - d. 1979 Locarno, Switzerland)  Alexander (Xanti) Schawinsky was born to Jewish parents in Switzerland. He was one of the original...

Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen

Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen

Ati Gropius Johansen, “Untitled (Gondolier Boats).” Ink on pulp paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen (Student 1943-1946) (b.1926-d.2014) Ati Gropius Forberg Johansen was an educator,...

Harrison Begay

Harrison Begay

Unknown photographer, "Harrison Begay sketching at Black Mountain College," ca. 1940. Digital print from archival scan. Western Regional Archive, State Archives of NC.Harrison Begay (b. 1917 Whitecone, Arizona - d. 2012 Gilbert, Arizona) Harrison Begay was a Diné...

Marguerite Wildenhain

Marguerite Wildenhain

Marguerite Wildenhain, "Untitled Tile." Glazed stoneware. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Private Donor.Marguerite Wildenhain (b. 1896 Lyon, France; d. 1985 Guerneville, CA) Marguerite Wildenhain was a ceramic artist born in Lyon, France in...

Sōetsu Yanagi

Sōetsu Yanagi

William Watson, “Fall 1952 Pottery Seminar: Shōji Hamada (b. 1894 Tokyo, Japan - d. 1978 Mashiko, Tochigi, Japan), Bernard Leach (b. 1887 British Hong Kong - d. 1979 St. Ives, UK), Sōetsu Yanagi (b. 1889 Tokyo, Japan - d. 1961 Tokyo, Japan) and Marguerite Wildenhain,...

Robert Bliss

Robert Bliss

Robert Bliss, “Lady Murasaki’s Fan Chair,” 1993. Teak, suede. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Robert Bliss (b. 1921 Seattle, WA - d. 2018 Salt Late City)  Robert Bliss studied architecture at BMC with Lawrence Kocher and...

R. Buckminster Fuller

R. Buckminster Fuller

Hazel Larsen Archer, Buckminster Fuller in His Dome, Summer 1949. Hazel Larsen Archer, Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College, ca. 1948-1949. Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer. R. Buckminster Fuller (b. 1895 Milton, MA - d. 1983, Los Angeles, CA) R. (Richard)...

Sarah Carlisle Towery

Sarah Carlisle Towery

Sarah Carlisle Towery, “Betrothed,” 1994. Mixed media on canvas. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Sarah Carlisle Towery (b. 1911 Alexander City, AL - d. 2007 Alexander City, AL) Sarah Carlisle Towery was a devoted teacher...

Leo Krikorian

Leo Krikorian

Leo Krikorian, “Untitled,” 1948. Oil on masonite. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Leo Krikorian (b. 1922 Fowler, CA, 2nd generation Armenian - d. 2005 Paris, France) Leo Krikorian was born in California and grew up during...

Ilya Bolotowsky

Ilya Bolotowsky

Ilya Bolotowsky, “Diamond III,” 1979. Silkscreen on paper, ed. 1881/225. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Robert F. Gold.Ilya Bolotowsky (b. 1907 St. Petersburg, Russia - d. 1981 New York, NY) Ilya Bolotowsky and his family immigrated...

Cynthia Homire

Cynthia Homire

Cynthia Homire, “Untitled (I got this idea from Philip Guston...years & years of struggle for a few moments of grace),” 1993. Watercolor on paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Cynthia Homire (Student 1950-1953)...

M.C. Richards

M.C. Richards

M.C. Richards, “Magical Objects,” date unknown. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Julia Connor.Hazel Larsen Archer, Portrait of M.C. Richards, ca. 1952. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer.M.C. Richards...

Jack Tworkov

Jack Tworkov

Jack Tworkov, “KTL #1,” 1982. Lithograph. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of Pat and Ed Butler.Jack Tworkov, "L-SF-ES #1," 1979. Etching with aquatint, copyright proof #2 for subscriber's edition. Collection of Black Mountain College...

Emerson Woelffer

Emerson Woelffer

Emerson Woelffer, “Untitled,” 1979. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Private Donor.Emerson Woelffer (b. 1914 Chicago, IL - d. 2003) Emerson Woelffer was born in Chicago, and as a child travelled the Yucatan where he became fascinated with...

Jean Charlot

Jean Charlot

Jean Charlot working on fresco "Inspiration" under the Studies Building Black Mountain College, Summer 1944. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives. Gift of Janet Heling Roberts.Jean Charlot (b. 1898 Paris, France - d. 1979 Honolulu, Hawaii) Jean Charlot was an...

Kenneth Snelson

Kenneth Snelson

Kenneth Snelson, “Tall Star,” 1979. Aluminum and stainless steel. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.Kenneth Snelson (b. 1927 Pendleton, Oregon - d. 2016 New York City) Internationally known artist Kenneth Snelson was an art...

Nataraj Vashi and Praveena Mehta

Nataraj Vashi and Praveena Mehta

Nataraj Vashi and Praveena Mehta at BMC. Digital print from archival scan. Western Regional Archives, State Archives of NC.Nataraj Vashi (b. 1924 Gujarat, India - d. 1999) and Praveena Mehta (b. 1923 - d.1992 Mumbai, India) Nataraj Vashi and Praveena Mehta were...

Curator Tour

From our Partners

Exhibition Playlist

Black Mountain believes that in a shaken world of ideas, music as a world of inner order can help towards developing that community for which we all toil. – Black Mountain College Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 3. February 1943.

Credits: Josef Albers, Variant / Adobe, 1947, oil on blotting paper, 16 3/4 x 22 1/2 in. Collection of Hedy Fischer and Randy Shull. | Steve Locke, Homage to the Auction Block #28 – daylight, June 2020, gouache on panel, 12 x 12 inches. LaMontagne Gallery. | Exhibition documentation by Michael Oppenheim photography. | Virtual Tour produced by Liz Williams for Southern Equality Studios, a project of the Campaign for Southern Equality.