Mary Caroline (M.C.) Richards (1916 – 1999) was born in Weiser, Idaho and grew up in Portland, Oregon. She graduated from Reed College and received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1945 she joined the faculty at Black Mountain College (BMC) 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 among those who participated in the 1952 Happening at BMC titled Theater Piece No. 1, a multi-media experimental performance conceived by John Cage and David Tudor.

View the Exhibition's Digital Catalog

Centering: Life + Art – 100 Years celebrates the many contributions M.C. Richards on the occasion of her centennial. The exhibition is accompanied by a digital catalogue with contributions from James C. Anderson, Paulus Berensohn, Julia Connor, Deborah Haynes, Diedra Heitzman + Sherry Wildfeuer, Matthew Fox, Irwin Kremen, Jenni Sorkin, and Jeffrey Spahn.

Explore the Exhibition Catalogue →

The exhibition includes work from the BMCM+AC collection and from various lenders. Highlights for this exhibition include:

  • Works in clay made from Richards’ Black Mountain College years (1940s-50s) up to the 1990s, including a collaborative pot made with Peter Voulkos
  • Paintings including selections from her Egg Series
  • Poems, broadsides and typescripts from BMC and after, including Richards’ first book of poems printed at Black Mountain College
  • Photographs and ephemera related to Richards’ book Centering in Pottery, Poetry and the Person and other publications.

Opening Reception: Friday, June 3 – 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. – Free

M.C. Richards - 4 Virgins of the Elk Dance


Thursday, July 7 – 7:00 p.m.

M.C. Richards’ influential work affected the course of the visual and performing arts and education. In this panel, we will hear from people who knew her both personally and professionally as they consider her life and legacy. With Julia Connor, literary executor for M.C. Richards; James Anderson, actor and director; Matthew Fox, author and theologian; and David Silver, associate professor of media studies and urban agriculture at the University of San Francisco. Moderated by Brian E. Butler, Howerton Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, UNC Asheville.

Free for BMCM+AC member + students with ID // $5 for non-members


Friday, July 8 – 7:30 p.m.

Tribute to M.C.

Poets Paulus Berensohn and Julia Connor honor their friend and mentor M.C. Richards.

$5 for BMCM+AC members + students with ID // $8 for non-members


Sunday, July 10 – 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Tribute to M.C.

Help celebrate M.C. Richards’ 100th birthday at the historic barns of Black Mountain College. Activities include, pottery, poetry, refreshments, and the planting of a tree in honor of M.C. Richards.

Free, but space is limited! Please sign up in advance.


Thursday, July 21 – 7:30 p.m.

M.C. Richards: The Fire Within

This inspiring documentary by Richard Kane and Melody Lewis-Kane celebrates the life and legacy of M.C. Richards

Free for BMCM+AC members // $5 for non-members


Thursday evening through Saturday – July 7, 8 + 9

M.C. Richards at Black Mountain College

Hands-on research , farm work, pottery, poetry, cooking, and immersion in M.C.’s philosophy of life and work focusing on her time at BMC. Taught by David Silver, associate professor of media studies and urban agriculture at the University of San Francisco and Julia Connor, Poet Laureate of Sacramento and literary executor for the M.C. Richards Estate.

Sliding Scale: $150 – $250 (includes 2 lunches + 1 dinner)

Complete Workshop Details
  • Roundtable panel on M.C. Richards’ life + legacy
  • Exhibition tour of “M.C. Richards, Centering: Life + Art, 100 Years”
  • Visit the Black Mountain College farm + barns + learn about BMC’s farm program
  • Experience Warren Wilson College’s organic farm + garden
  • Harvest + cook a communal dinner
  • Archival research session at the Western Regional Archives
  • Hands-on clay + poetry
  • Tribute to M.C. Richards poetry reading
  • Celebrate M.C. Richards’ 100th birthday at the barns of Black Mountain College

Sliding Scale: $150-$250 (includes 2 lunches + 1 dinner)
Limited Enrollment – Advanced Registration Required

Alice Sebrell

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