Ongoing throughout the conference – Reuter Center Lobby

Sculptures by Leigh Ann Hallberg

Leigh Ann Hallberg presents a small exhibition of approximately 10 sculptures for the duration of the conference. The implications of the Black Mountain Conference title “ReViewing” resonate with some of my recent sculptural works. These works are created from domestic items that were owned by my grandmother. Retaining evidence of their previous lives, I have refashioned them or “Re-Viewed” them to consider perception, history, and time. I consider the objects as historical records of their construction, their utility, and their multiple meanings over time. The sculptures I would like to include in the exhibition began as plaid blankets, gloves, a plate, and linens. The blankets, for instance, I think of as standing waves as explained in physics. Standing waves seem an apt metaphor for the blankets where the strings of warp and weft converge and resonate with one another. Frequency, intervals, and intersections characterize the patterns of these plaid blankets, as they also do in the geometries of Anni Albers’ textiles. They create nodes, oscillations, and interactions from the energy of all the conditions the material has been subject to and the people who have made or interacted with the blankets over time. My interventions with sewing, knotting, and repairing allow me to engage in the history of the blankets- inserting myself- tying me to them and their history. My aesthetic choices in these interventions are made intuitively and often in the meditative state produced by the repetitive process of stitching. Other sculptures also resonate with scientific ideas of time/ space and chirality. It seems to me that by continuing to engage with Black Mountain College and the people who made it happen, we are “ReViewing” their history to continue their legacy of invention, experimentation, and critical dialog.

Leigh Ann Hallberg is an artist and Teaching Professor in Art at Wake Forest University, where she has twice received a Hoak Family Fellowship as well as a Christina W. Whitney Art Faculty Grant, a Dingledine Faculty Grant for Support of International Activities and three Archie Grants. Her work has been exhibited throughout the US and internationally. Hallberg received her MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She teaches drawing and studio fundamentals at Wake Forest.



Friday Oct. 7, 2:00 – 3:30pm: SESSION NO. 1 – Room 206

Adobes and Ancient Threads: Josef and Anni Albers on Sabbatical, 1946-47

Moderator: Michael Beggs

Michael Beggs: The Albers on Sabbatical, September 1946 – January 1948

This presentation will include a general outline of the Alberses travels in 1946 and 1947, and then a more detailed presentation about the work each artist did during that time. It will explore the Alberses’ relationships with sabbatical and being at BMC and being on Sabbatical. For instance, Josef was always extremely productive on sabbatical, making paintings on paper that he then painted on Masonite once he returned to BMC, while Anni, away from her looms, was far less productive. Additional topics will include: the Albers in New Mexico, a brief history of the Alberses’ journeys to Mexico, and the truth and myth of Mexico as a locus of inspiration for Josef and Anni Albers.

Michael Beggs is an architect and independent scholar who has studied Black Mountain College since 2010. He worked from 2010-2015 at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and has written about Josef Albers for a number of publications including Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-57 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015) and Josef Albers (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2018).


Julie J. Thomson: How the Harriett Engelhardt Collection Came to Be at BMC 

This presentation will share research for our forthcoming exhibition, Weaving at Black Mountain College, about who Harriett Engelhardt was, examine the textiles that Anni Albers collected in her memory, and share how BMC students used these textiles in their study of weaving and textiles. Harriett Engelhardt came to BMC with an interest in art, art history, and museum work. At BMC Harriett studied with both Alberses and by Spring 1940 had decided to focus on weaving. World War II interrupted her studies and she served as an airplane mechanic and in the Red Cross, which took her overseas to Europe. She died in an automobile accident in 1945. With the funds from Harriett’s Estate and others who knew and served with Harriett, Anni Albers and Black Mountain College decided to assemble a study collection of weavings in her memory. The collection represented, in the words of Ted Dreier, the work in which she had “been particularly interested and which she later hoped to pursue.” Anni Albers began purchasing textiles in Mexico during her sabbatical in the summer of 1947 and they were displayed at the College in May 1948.

Julie J. Thomson is an independent scholar and curator who researches and writes about artists at Black Mountain College. She served as co-editor of the Journal of Black Mountain College Studies from 2018-2020. In 2016 she curated Begin to See: The Photographers of Black Mountain College. She also edited That Was the Answer: Interviews with Ray Johnson (Soberscove Press 2018).



Friday Oct. 7, 2:00 – 3:30pm: SESSION NO. 2 Room 207

Moderator: Carissa Pfeiffer

Diane Ahn: Displacing Space: Embedded Nature in Leo Amino’s Plastic Sculptures

This paper focuses on the material and stylistic shift in Leo Amino’s practice from wood to plastic exemplified by two sculptures of the same name. His 1950 and 1952 Stamen are both modeled and named after the same form, but the earlier version is made of Maplewood while the latter features pieces of wood embedded in polyester resin. These two sculptures illustrate Amino’s turn towards using plastic and abstracting natural forms. Juxtaposing these two works reveals a new set of formal concerns that the artist discovered in the process of embedding traditional sculptural materials in plastic, and of the natural in the man-made. The material qualities of plastic compelled the artist to fundamentally rethink the temporality, visuality, and tactility of sculpture, and the different ways these sensorial shifts could allow sculpture to displace space. This moment of grappling with the tension between traditional sculptural practices and the new possibilities plastic promised is embedded in these two sculptures—much like the wood suspended in plastic. But Amino’s material experiments within the confines of his apartment did not only displace space in his immediate environment. His embedding of nature in plastic was also premised on the displacement of raw materials implicated in histories of colonialism and imperialism. Colonial powers first displaced natural resources to fuel industry in the metropole, and eventually displaced those raw materials with synthetic versions in a shift that fundamentally reshaped 20th century geopolitics. Although it may not be apparent at first glance, these narratives of natural displacement bound to histories of war are also embedded in this material and Amino’s career.

Diane Ahn is a PhD student in History, Theory, and Criticism of Art at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research is centered on modern and contemporary Asian and diasporic Asian art. Her writings can be found in publications such as Art in America and


Michael Hatch: Black Craftspeople / Appalachian Histories

In this presentation I will provide an overview of my search for Black histories in the Mountain South region where Black Mountain College was located, including stories that were new to me but well known to those who have told them for generations. My current research challenges the common misconceptions of Southern Appalachian identity that were constructed by outsiders during the Reconstruction era when the country was struggling to define its national identity after the Civil War. W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, “The construction of Appalachian identity focused on the white settlers in the region to a degree that virtually erased the long history of Black lives in the region.” This erasure of regional Black histories continues to this day, many people still believe that there were no Black people here, and that slavery did not exist in Southern Appalachia. Free and enslaved Black settlers performed the same craft-based tasks as the white settlers that the region became known for, but their stories rarely appear in Appalachian histories. My goal is to place their stories into the dominant regional narratives alongside those of white settlers. I have presented my research for this project at the Craftways Symposium (sponsored by the Center For Craft and Warren Wilson College), and at a Racial Equality Committee roundtable (sponsored by Haystack School Of Crafts, and hosted by The Elliot School). I was interviewed by Anjula Razdan for her American Craft Magazine article “Unearthing the Craftscape.” She writes that my work is exploding binaries, and that my research is part of the craftscape’s decolonizing approach to dismantling dominant histories and narratives.

Michael Hatch, founder of Crucible Glassworks Studio and Gallery, is a glass artist, musician, craft-based researcher, and sound/video artist whose work has been exhibited at museums throughout the country. He received a BS in Sociology and Anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MA in Critical Craft Studies from Warren Wilson College. His current research project, Black Craftspeople: Appalachian Histories, is supported through a Craft Research Project Grant from the Center For Craft.



Friday Oct. 7, 2:00 – 3:30pm: PERFORMANCE – Manheimer Room

Ann Dunn and Dancers: Seen/Unseen and Betty, two new dance works

“Seen/Unseen” is conceived as a four movement, nine-minute contemporary duet based on four sculptures by Leo Amino, set to music by the Washington D.C. composer, Erin Snedicor (cello, voice, and electronic). “Betty” is a solo based on the movement images of Elizabeth Schmitt Jennerjahn taken at Black Mountain College, and on two pieces of her textile art. The accompanying paper will discuss my choreographic process for these two works, from idea to research to studio to performance. Professional contemporary dancers from The Asheville Ballet will perform. (30 minutes)

Ann Dunn served as principal ballerina with The Hartford Ballet and The American Ballet after training with the New York City Ballet, Martha Graham, and Merce Cunningham. She owns The Asheville Academy of Ballet and Contemporary Dance and teaches courses in the Arts and Humanities at UNC-Asheville. She has published three volumes of poetry and received multiple teaching awards, including Most Distinguished Teacher in Humanities at UNC-Asheville.



Friday Oct. 7, 3:45 – 4:45pm: KEYNOTE SPEAKER – Manheimer Room

Marci Kwon, PhD

A scholar of American Art, Marci Kwon’s research and teaching interests include the intersection of fine art and vernacular practice, theories of modernism, cultural exchange between Asia and the Americas, critical race theory, and “folk” and “self-taught” art. She is the co-director of the Cantor Arts Center’s Asian American Art Initiative. Her book Enchantments: Joseph Cornell and American Modernism was published by Princeton University Press in 2021. Additional articles address Isamu Noguchi; John Kane and amateurism, and labor; race and value; Japanese internment crafts; Surrealism and folk art at the Museum of Modern Art; Martin Wong and Orientalism; and Asian American art. She is currently working on a book about art, artifice, and authenticity in post-Earthquake San Francisco Chinatown. Kwon has also held positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. At Stanford, Kwon is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Asian American Studies, African and African American Studies, American Studies, the Center for East Asia, and Feminist and Gender Studies, and serves on the steering committee of Modern Thought and Literature.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 9:00 – 10:30am:  SESSION NO. 1 – Room 205

Moderator: Kate Anderson

Angel Bellaran: Theory of Excellence: The Unknown Legacy of Diversity at Black Mountain College

Black Mountain College is universally synonymous with academic innovation and artistic talent, but little is known about the school’s legacy of diversity. Underlying assumptions suggest that the contributions made by artists from marginalized groups are just another example of the college’s ingenuity, however, my research re-examines existing narratives through an intersectional lens, proposing a new perspective: The Black Mountain College legacy of creative excellence is not just a cause for its radical diversity, but in fact, a direct result of it. It is within this context that I present faculty minutes, faculty files, student files, photos, publications and personal correspondence (provided by and with the support of the Western Regional Archives). I had the privilege of attending ReVIEWING 10 in 2018, and during this visit a selection of shared documents included correspondence clearly indicating that Black Mountain College was actively recruiting for a diverse workplace. The iconic photo from the 1946 Summer Institute with everyone under the tree is Exhibit A: somehow, in the Southern Appalachians of the United States this college was a known safe haven for artists of color and creatives belonging to the LGBTQ community. Even by today’s standards, the demographic makeup and location of that photograph is distinct. Many of the faculty and staff of BMC were known for being outspoken and intentional in their attempts to steward an inclusive educational environment – a fact confirmed more than once by the FBI. Meanwhile in 2022, schools across the U.S. continue to deny the existence LGBTQ students, and debates over teaching about race in the classroom are constant. It is imperative to acknowledge that the unlikely collective of creative genius that came to inhabit Lake Eden was not unintentional, or a coincidence: it was curated. In doing so, the legacy of Black Mountain College endures and expands, and its influence on intersectional pedagogy ultimately actualized as its greatest inheritance.

Angel Bellaran is a curator, visual activist, and educator with over 15 years of experience in the art world. She received her MA in Curatorial Studies from the Institute of Art, Design & Technology in Dublin, Ireland. A third-generation multiracial American, Bellaran’s research explores the impact of forgotten and/or erased histories by identifying and analyzing the unknown; her practice is intersectional and often collaborative, and her work challenges conventional wisdoms by inspiring cultural change from within.


EunJung Chang: Race and Art Education: Representing the Critical Issues of Social Justice in the Art of Jacob Lawrence

African American, Black Mountain artist Jacob Lawrence portrayed vital African American figures (i.e., Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, etc.) and periods in African American history. In particular, he was known for his 60-panel Migration Series, depicting portrayals of the Great Migration, when more than six million African Americans moved from the rural South to the industrial North for a better quality of life. African Americans experienced intensified levels of racial violence, ethnic riots, segregation, injustice, and discrimination on the way to the north as well as upon their arrival. By using primary colors with extreme simplicity, Jacob illustrated the immeasurable struggles of African Americans, because of their race as Negro. Lewis (1990) stated, “he is a social artist of great ability who speaks loudly and clearly through his work” (p. 131). This presentation explores the art of Jacob Lawrence, especially race and race relations in his works of art. Racially responsive teaching plays a critical role in helping students come to understand their ethnic self-esteem, cultural diversity, and social inclusion. I believe a straightforward start is to include various social justice issues through different works of art and artists from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds in our teaching content. Quinn (2005) said, “What better tools and what better place, than the arts and art education?” (p.190). Art can be used to elevate and promote awareness of social justice; art educators can “facilitate social justice through various media, promote change and clarity, and generate healing, trust, and bridge buildings” (Gussak, 2010, p. vii). We as educators can create opportunities for our students to learn about and address the critical issues of social justice like racism that affect their lives.

EunJung Chang is Professor of Art Education in the Department of Fine Arts at Francis Marion University. She holds an MS in Art Education and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research interests include museum education, STEM/STEAM education, cross-cultural education, and social justice art education.


Sophie Mak-Schram: Finding Stone Williams with the Watermelon Woman

How do submerged histories remerge? Not via the same methods that led to existing histories. The influence of Alma Stone Williams, Black Mountain College and the South’s first African American student – and a woman at that – is constrained to the accolading of the college for its admission of Stone Williams, and a note in the introduction to her archive that she “helped to make the Summer Institute of 1944 different from the rest”. so too, Anni Albers’ legacy as an artist and educator in her own right has been slow in coming; only in recent years have exhibitions and texts signaled her influence both pedagogically and aesthetically.

Whilst Stone Williams’ letters do not note any racial discrimination, neither she nor Albers rise to the historical ranks of their male classmates. Given the formative position of Black Mountain College in the imaginaries of alternative art schools in the contemporary, I am interested in interjecting: this paper proposes a feminist speculation of the Black Mountain College archives.

This speculation, which uses Zoe Leonard’s Fae Richards Photo Archive (1993-1996) and Cheryl Dunye’s corresponding film, The Watermelon Woman (1997) as method, aims to seek out potential histories in what the archive is missing (and therefore cannot refute). Leonard’s work proclaims the existence of one Fae Richards, a black lesbian actress and singer of the 1930s. Fae may be a character rather than a historical figure, but so too, following Donald Preziosi and others’ critique of 20th century modern art history, art historical practices premise themselves on the claim of making the visible legible from an ostensible neutral, disembodied position. The invisible, from this optic, needs a new form of translation to make its claim on current historicisations.

This paper thus aims to speculate a narrative of possible histories, using a critique of historiographical dominance, the propositional archiving of Leonard and Dunye, and an experimental approach to learning from material that might be in line with the College’s initial ethos. In so doing, it hopes to suggest new ways in which the College might be relevant for contemporary practices of alternative learning.

Sophie Mak-Schram is working on a PhD as part of the EU: Horizon 2020-funded FEINART project. She has a Research MA in Arts and Culture from Leiden University, a PgC in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy from the University of Leeds, and a BA in English Literature and History of Art from the University of York. She thinks and works collaboratively around how knowledge is constituted around art – and what political and social implications these knowledges have. She is specifically interested in decolonial and feminist approaches, radical pedagogies, and collective practice.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 9:00 – 10:30am:  SESSION NO. 2 Room 206

Moderator: Heather South

Sarah Ehlers: Black Mountain Poetic Communities and the “Paradox of Institutionality”

Taking up contemporary artist Mel Chin’s description of Black Mountain College as a “territory of creativity,” this paper leverages the college’s unique history to rethink the political stakes of institutional arts culture and the dynamics of state power that sustain literary discourse. I draw on original archival research to show how the early writing communities at BMC were informed by the same emerging liberal models that shaped the institutionalization of university creative writing programs during what Mark McGurl has dubbed “the program era.” Analyzing the day-to-day writing and pedagogical practices at Black Mountain in relation to institutional concerns related to hiring, fundraising, and community outreach reveals how aspects of Black Mountain’s short-lived experiment were symptoms of the becoming of the U.S. neoliberal university. Constructing a renewed sense of Black Mountain poetic communities not as alternatives to university-based creative institutions, but from within what the critic Jodi Melamed describes as the “paradox of institutionality” may make it possible to see in starker relief potential alterities, collectivities, or radicalisms that existed before the college’s closing as well as in its variegated afterlives. Such a perspective provides the groundwork for studying the contributions of writers left out of predominant narratives of Black Mountain poetics and allows for new understandings of the politics of literary experiment.

Sarah Ehlers is Associate Professor of English at the University of Houston and is working on a study of Black Mountain College tentatively titled “Black Mountain Modernity.” Her first book, Left of Poetry: Depression America and the Formation of Modern Poetics (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), was shortlisted for the Modernist Studies Association First Book Prize.


Thomas Frank: Black Mountain College and the ’60s Generation of “Experimental” Colleges

The 1930s were generative years for innovations in liberal arts education. Spurred on by the pragmatism of John Dewey, the rural and small town ideals of Arthur Morgan and Ralph Borsodi, and an influx of refugee scholars from Europe in need of academic positions, new colleges were founded and existing ones extensively restructured around experimental and experiential goals. These included a simplified interdisciplinary curriculum, a central focus on the individual student and their learning rather than requirements and prerequisites, work experience either on campus or in nearby communities, and focus on practices — particularly the arts — that would extend the capacities of the student to attend to the world more clearly and see the connections of learning and living. The Great Depression made financial survival difficult but also brought a pool of faculty and staff willing to work for little more than room and board as they strived to put these goals into practice. By the 1960s Black Mountain College was closed, but other peer “experimental” schools such as Bard, Bennington, Antioch, Goddard, and Sarah Lawrence were positioned to thrive as higher education entered a boom period. A college degree was beginning to be seen as a basic credential for growing sectors of the workforce. Innovative and ambitious educators now had a chance to develop alternatives to the increasing regimentation and standardization of college degrees, driven especially by the unprecedented growth of public universities. In New York State and Washington State, “experimental” models were even put in place within the public university system; Stony Brook and Potsdam in the former, Evergreen in the latter. Just as the Depression sparked widespread frustration and resistance to the failures of global capitalism, the 1960s generated revolts against inherited rigidities of race and gender, mores of culture, and assertions of American military power. Both decades were tumultuous though for different reasons. Both offered fertile ground for experiment. This paper explores the story of several new private colleges of the 1960s, including Marlboro, Franconia, and Naropa, as well as experiments within public systems. I will develop the major commonalities of the new generation, describe some of their unique features, and identify key factors in their survival or demise. All along I will be noting how their stories parallel or differ from BMC, and address whether they were any more successful in creating a healthy educational environment for students and faculty of any race, gender, and sexuality.

Thomas Edward Frank is a scholar of higher education and religious institutions. He is co-editor of the Journal of Black Mountain College Studies and is curating an exhibition of works by Black Mountain College artists from the Wake Forest University and Reynolda House Museum of American Art collections to be shown in 2023.


David Silver: The Last Few Days of Black Mountain College

Black Mountain College mythology locates the closing of the college to a single meeting between Charles Olson and Wes Huss. It was late September, 1956, a day or two before fall semester would begin, when Olson and Huss went to Asheville for a late breakfast. (Some remember it was a beer; others say they had coffee in Black Mountain.) According to Olson, “we stopped it right then and there.” Although there is some truth to this story, the decision to close the college was less a product of a single meeting between two men and more a result of a long, sustained collapse, one that pummeled the college from 1954 to ‘56. As writing professor M.C. Richards wrote of the college’s end: “It was pulverized by poverty, fatigue, and legal challenge.” As its title suggests, this talk explores the last days of Black Mountain College, a particularly brutal period marked by evaporating revenues, a crumbling campus, and severe food and mental health crises. Through deep archival research and special attention to the experiences of lesser-known college members, like Ebbe Borregaard and Don and Eloise Mixon, this presentation excavates and examines the last few days of Black Mountain College.

David Silver is an associate professor of environmental studies and urban agriculture at the University of San Francisco and author of the forthcoming book The Farm at Black Mountain College.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 9:00 – 10:30am:  SESSION NO. 3 – Room 207

Charles Olson Outside of the Western Box: In Search of the Primary, Session 1

Moderator: Joseph Pizza

Jeffrey Gardiner: The Informing Body: Olson’s The Chiasma, or Lectures on the New Sciences of Man (1953)

In late 1952, Olson began planning for a conference at Black Mountain College on what he described as the new sciences of man (archeology, geography, physiology, and mythology… specifically Essays on a Science of Mythology by Jung and Kerenyi). Olson’s lectures would contextualize the lectures given by the conference’s visiting scholars…most notably C. F. C. Hawkes (Prehistoric Foundations of Europe to the Mycenean Age) and Marie-Louise von Franz (Jungian psychologist and scholar). Drawing on his readings in the fields listed above, Olson focused on the accounts of the early human experience of the earth and the expression of that experience in cave paintings, storytelling, and dance.

Jeff Gardiner is a regular presenter on Charles Olson’s work at the ReVIEWING BMC Conference. In addition to his dissertation, he has published many essays on Olson’s poetry and serves as co-host of the Olson panels at the American Literature Association Annual Conference.


Joshua Hoeynck: OVER ALL, HATE: Empire and Tragedy in Charles Olson’s The Mayan Letters

Recent debates and critical studies of Charles Olson’s time in the Yucatan Peninsula during the first half of 1951 have taken diametrically opposed approaches to their readings of what Olson learned and experienced there. For poet Heribero Yepez, Olson’s study of the Maya was marred by his racist, colonialist, and expansionist North American identity. Yepez’s study, The Empire of Neo-Memory, has received wide criticism for its sloppy readings, however, and other points of view have come to the fore. Archeologist Dylan Clark, for example, situates Olson’s knowledge and approach to studying the Maya in terms of what he did and did not know about anthropology and archeology at the time. In my paper, I negotiate between these two points of view, bringing Olson’s sense of North American ecological tragedy to bear on the debate. Olson not only learned from studying Mayan hieroglyphs, architecture, and culture, he experienced major poetic breakthroughs that helped him to conceive a thoroughly ethical, eco-poetic stance toward reality.

Joshua Hoeynck has been studying and writing on Charles Olson and Black Mountain poetry since receiving his PhD at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2019, he published Staying Open: Charles Olson’s Sources and Influences (Vernon Press), a collection of essays from events sponsored by the Charles Olson Society, which he co-directs with Jeff Gardiner. He teaches at Case Western Reserve University.


Benjamin Lee: Black Mountain Dispersal II

“Why Are We Still Talking about Black Mountain College?” asks recent article in The New York Times. I want to argue, somewhat counterintuitively, that our fascination with the College has as much to do with the way it narrated its own dispersal as it does with the work it produced while in operation. Building on a paper I delivered at the ReVIEWING 8, I offer a reading of Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems as a work principally concerned with dispersal: with the transformation of community over time, with an understanding of place as inseparable from the experience of migration, and with an aesthetic of fragmentation and collage that might allow artists to make sense of collectivities that seem destined to fall apart. Olson’s skill at theorizing the dispersal of avant-garde community, I argue, was an important factor in his influence on later twentieth-century American poetry, just as the model Black Mountain College provided for subsequent avant-garde communities at risk of collapse remains an important part of its legacy.

Benjamin Lee is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he teaches modern and contemporary poetry, literary theory, and African American literature. He is the author of Poetics of Emergence: Affect and History in Postwar Experimental Poetry (University of Iowa Press, 2020) and numerous essays and reviews. He is writing a second book on dispersed avant-garde communities.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 9:00 – 10:30am:  PERFORMANCE – Room 120

Melissa Godoy Nieto: Refractional Projections (40 minutes)

Refractional Projections is a visual and sound performance led by artist Melissa Godoy Nieto. The piece explores motion, shape, color, and sounds, inspired by the work of Leo Amino, honoring his “Refractional” sculpture series. Melissa Godoy Nieto will take over a dark space to do a time-based installation and performance using analog projectors with color transparencies, paper cut-outs, and string. On the overhead projectors she creates abstract images and geometric shapes, projecting them over a large area on the walls and ceiling of the room, slowly moving from one composition to the next. In drawing from the rich visual vocabulary of fractured images, light, transparency, and shadow, Refractional Projections creates a space where audiences can experience to be enclosed by Amino-inspired compositions. These are accompanied by a sound score made of amplified sounds that the materials and the projectors make. Since Amino’s resin sculptures are small scale, often standing on a pedestal or a table, this performance engages in enlarging colored abstractions, as a visual and performative act of appreciation of Leo Amino’s artistic legacy.

Melissa Godoy Nieto is based in NYC who also spends time in Mexico and on artist-residences around the world. She works in drawing, painting, textile, analog projections and performance and  has been exhibited in New York, Mexico, France, and Spain. Her work explores themes of the subconscious, adaptation, and the natural world.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 9:00 – 10:30am:  PERFORMANCE – Manheimer Room

Lei Han and UNCA New Media Students: Phantom Perspectives (60 minutes)

Light sculptures and video installations inspired by Leo Amino’s abstract acrylic sculptures and his experimentation with material and form. Students in the New Media Department from UNC Asheville lead by professor Lei Han will present their new-media work inspired by the Black Mountain College pioneer, Leo Amino. Through video feedback loop, glitch art, digital kinetic sculptures, real time audiovisual performance, and/or projection mapping, students explore the materiality of the digital realm. On an emotional, physical, intellectual, or spiritual level, these artworks aim to create an immersive experience with color, light, sound and shadow. The visitors may choose to interact with the works, or just lie back and relax.

Lei Han is a Professor and former Chair of the New Media Department at UNC-Asheville. She received her BA from Shenzen University in China and her MFA from the Memphis College of Art and Design. Her work in experimental video, animation, and interactive art is often inspired by nature and everyday life and explores notions of perception, memory, transience, and time.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 10:45am – 12:15pm: SESSION NO. 1 – Room 206

Moderator: Curt Cloninger

Charlott Greub: The Concept of Silence in Music and Architecture Exemplified by John Cage’s 4’33” and the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe

This presentation offers a perspective that posits that the relationship between architectural design work or experimental music and its environment could be construed as an interconnected spatial relationship or interpenetration in which the environment (landscape/ sound surroundings) comes to be seen as an integral part of a greater whole. (Art into life). Consistent with this perspective and using two key pieces of modernism in music and architecture as case studies, this article explores the relationship between the spatial interaction between sound material in 4’33’ in comparison to the spatial interpenetration between the Farnsworth House (built in 1945–51) located in Plano, Illinois, USA, and its enveloping riverbank environment.

Charlott Greub is an artist, architect, urban designer, and Associate Professor of Architecture at North Dakota State University in Fargo. Her work has been exhibited in many fine art museums across Germany. She holds an MFA in Sculpture and an MA in Architecture from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany.


Dave Peifer: In Search of Peter Nemenyi, a Black Mountain College Science Student

Peter Bjorn Nemenyi was a science student who attended BMC for three years and graduated in 1950. Peter’s story provides a microcosm of the turmoil and struggle that was unfolding around the world during his lifetime. He is a Forest Gump type of character, showing up and witnessing firsthand the most important events of his lifetime. He was born in Berlin in 1927. He spent the war years as a child refugee in Europe separated from his parents. After coming to the US, and serving in the military, he attended BMC. Peter’s advisor was Max Dehn, a distinguished mathematician from Germany who was a faculty member at BMC for seven years. After finishing at BMC, Peter went on to receive a PhD working on statistics at Princeton University. Like many of the students from BMC, Peter’s career leaned towards teaching and education. He also became involved in the civil rights movement. He taught at two historically black colleges, worked in Mississippi on voter registration drives, and participated in marches and sit-ins. Peter’s life was tied up with significant events from the Cold War. As the Reagan administration was caught up in the Iran-Contra scandal, Peter was working for the Sandinista government, in Nicaragua, as a statistician. He is probably the half-brother of the chess master Bobby Fischer. Peter’s story gives a distinctive perspective of many important cultural events.

David Peifer is a professor of mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. His mathematical research is in topology. He became interested in BMC when he learned that Max Dehn, a famous German mathematician (who had done foundational work in topology), had taught at BMC. Since that time, Peifer’s research has included writing about BMC. He has been a member of the board of the BMC Museum and Arts Center for over a decade.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 10:45am – 12:15pm: SESSION NO. 2 – Room 207

Moderator: Elliot Inman

Isabel Bird: Ruth Asawa’s Stamp and the Imprint of Black Mountain College

In Ruth Asawa’s final year at Black Mountain College, ca. 1948–49, she used a rubber stamp borrowed from the laundry room and featuring the college’s initials to make a body of work. Three years later, a textile pattern derived from this work was mass-produced and marketed across the United States, though without attribution to Asawa, nor to the school for which the pattern’s acronym stood. Unravelling this story in full for the first time, this talk traces the tangible collapse of two understudied spheres of Asawa’s early career: the experimental “free studies” of her Bauhaus-informed coursework with Josef Albers at Black Mountain in the late 1940s and her equally experimental attempts at “producing to sell” in San Francisco’s interior design world in the early 1950s. Throughout, I will demonstrate multiple abstractions of Asawa’s stamp—as both material tool and figurative signature—to argue for a new understanding of both Asawa’s intermedial practice and Black Mountain’s enduring pedagogical influence.

Isabel Bird is a PhD Candidate in History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University and the 2022-2023 Menil Drawing Institute Pre-Doctoral Fellow.


Shana Dumont Garr: Picture Planes and Glyph Exchange: Feminist Offerings Fueled by Spaces Between

This paper presents the video VVebcam by Petra Cortright as a contemporary extension of Leo Steinberg’s flatbed picture plane theory and the function of glyphs as taught at Black Mountain College the summer of 1951, with supporting texts by Laura Mulvey, Valie Export, and Ruth Erickson. Steinberg described the picture plane as conceptually corresponding to the human form and to laws of gravity from the Renaissance through early modernism and evolving in the mid-twentieth century to simulating a workspace, whereupon objects might be scattered, such as a desktop. In the video, Cortright parallels two picture planes, with both a Renaissance-like portrait view of her head and shoulders, and a transparent plane featuring a series of clip art imagery she chooses in real time, with a web cam recording her process. The clip art imagery, similar to small illustrations like emojis, might be understood as corollary to glyphs. Black Mountain College educators and students utilizing glyphs included Katherine Litz, Charles Olson, Lorna Blaine Halper, and Ray Johnson. Cortright’s video simultaneously utilizes both picture planes and the interdisciplinary qualities of glyph-like imagery to make a feminist offering of the digital era. I argue that Cortright’s VVebcam extends the concept of the flatbed picture plane and the reinventive qualities of glyphs to make way for innovative, empowering self-representation.

Shana Dumont Garr is a contemporary art curator, writer, and educator based in Greater Boston. She was the Curator of Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA from 2016-2022. Previously she served as the director of Kingston Gallery in Boston, the Director of exhibitions and programs at Artspace in Raleigh, NC, and worked at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, NC. She is currently pursuing a doctorate at the Institute of Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.


Brian T. Leahy: Ray Johnson’s Relational Abstraction   

While he is better known today as the founder of the New York Correspondence School, a central figure for mail art, a wily and inventive performer, and a trickster presence in the downtown New York art scene, Ray Johnson began as an abstract painter at Black Mountain College. In this talk, I trace the ways in which Johnson’s abstraction developed within interpersonal conditions: under the tutelage of Anni and Josef Albers; in close friendship with Ruth Asawa; and within romantic intertwinements with sculptor Richard Lippold. Diverging from accounts that place abstraction as a premature interest of Johnson’s student years or as a detour he took before beginning his collage and mailing work, I attempt to show how abstraction, for Johnson and, arguably, for Black Mountain in general, already was a relational activity. In this light, I re-examine Johnson’s later works in performance, mail art, and collage to demonstrate the ways in which Johnson made abstraction move, shimmy, and dance, and how the way in which Johnson encountered abstraction at Black Mountain College provided the generative seeds for his later multi-media achievements in making a profound body of art that derived its energy from interpersonal exchanges.

Brain T. Leahy earned his MA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. His dissertation investigates the role of supplementary exhibition media, such as press releases and announcements, in the development of art-historical narratives during the 1970s and 1980s. His writing has appeared in Artforum, Art in Print, The Art Newspaper, and The Brooklyn Rail, in addition to various museum catalogs, including Ray Johnson C/O (Art Institute of Chicago, 2021).



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 10:45am – 12:15pm: WORKSHOP – Room 230

Anne Dickens and Craig Bogdon: Materials and Meaning: Jewelry Making in the Style of Anni Albers and Alex Reed

Starting with a short presentation highlighting the concepts and history of the jewelry made by Anni Albers and Alex Reed in Mexico from common materials, attendees will be given items with which to create. These everyday items or found objects from the former Black Mountain College campus area will be used in the construction of necklaces, earrings or other wearable items. Additionally attendees will be encouraged to collect their own found objects from the conference such as coffee stirrers, paper and natural items. Jewelry making may include wire wrapping, beading and assemblage.

Craig Bogdon is a former IT Manager and independent art researcher and collector.

Anne Dickens is a former high school art instructor with a lifelong interest in the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 10:45am – 12:15pm: PERFORMANCES – Manheimer Room

Madeline Shuron: Who Are You Who Are So Strangely Me? A postmodern duet for two (20 minutes)

“What does it mean for the self to be doubled? How do you hold on to your humanity when, ultimately, you’re a refraction of another?” WHO ARE YOU WHO ARE SO STRANGELY ME? is a postmodern duet for two that utilizes found sound and contrasts artificial material with the organic. In this duet, I attempt to examine effects of alienation that happens due to doubling through phrases and gesture work that deals with the questions of repetition and copying. Much like Amino’s work with resin and methods of transparency, the two dancers begin to layer on one another in an attempt to regain their authenticity. The gestural phrases and choreography includes remnants of Amino’s play of angular and softened, curved lines. Much as Amino blended together technical and aesthetic experimentation, WHO ARE YOU WHO ARE SO STRANGELY ME attempts to juxtapose the real with the imaginary, the tactile with the imagined. Perception begins to blur as we slowly uncover that the two are simply mirrors of each other, doomed to circuitry.

Madeline Shuron studied theater at Bryn Mawr College and is an MFA candidate in Dance at Temple University. As an artist and educator in Philadelphia, she is interested in investigating embodied affect and interrogating the audience-performer relationship through an interdisciplinary approach of dance, theater, film, puppetry, and clowning.


Weronika Trojanska and Collaborators: Untitled (Leo Amino) (15 minutes)

On the occasion of 13th Annual ReVIEWING Black Mountain College conference and the exhibition Leo Amino at Black Mountain College I would like to present a new work that uses sound as representation of Leo Amino’s sculptures. As some of his works may already resemble musical instruments in their form, like those made with wood and wire (he often also titled them as numbered “Compositions”), or scores – in general his “refractional” sculptures made with light, color, and transparent materials bring to mind the quality similar to music. Thus the piece will focus on the idea of transforming this lucidity of color and form into another medium and re-materializing Amino’s works in sound. On one hand it can give the opportunity for the viewer to discern some other aspect of Japanese-American artist’s work than the visual ones, on the other – it could be a chance for people who are not able to see his work to experience it in some way. Playing with the idea of invisibility, created “soundscapes” (with the help of professional musicians) will act more like mirrors than copies.

Weronika Trojańska is a Polish artist who graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań and Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam. Her works and performances, including the historic “Cut Piece” by Yoko Ono, have been presented at museums around the world. She has also published texts in many Polish and English-language magazines about art (including On Curating, Metropolis M and She is now a PhD student at The Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 1:15 – 2:00pm: FEATURED SPEAKER – Manheimer Room 

Genji Amino, curator of Leo Amino: Work with Material

Genji Amino is a poet, critic, art historian, and curator. They are the Director of the Estate of Leo Amino, grandchild of Leo Amino, and Co-Director of New Mexico Poetics, an annual residency and seminar founded with Daisy Atterbury in 2010. Amino is a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and holds an MFA from the Milton Avery School of the Arts, Bard College. Their work focuses on how Asian American and African American racialized histories and trauma play out in the present day and generate visions for the future. Their recent curatorial projects that connect to this project include Leo Amino: The Visible and the Invisible at David Zwirner Gallery and No Monument: In the Wake of the Japanese American Incarceration at the Noguchi Museum.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2:15 – 3:45pm: SESSION NO. 1 – Room 206

Something New, Something Unknown: The Experimental Processes and Materials of Women Artists at Black Mountain College

Moderator: Siu Challons-Lipton

“There was a need for doing something new but what it looked like nobody knew.” (Anni Albers, Oral History Interview, July 5, 1968)


Black Mountain College of North Carolina encouraged educational and artistic experimentation, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and the fostering of individuality. The content of its arts curriculum was a study of the elements of form, its method, one of discovery and invention, with a goal of seeing and perceiving. They were becoming thoughtful, curious, questioning individuals, who were not afraid to fail. Students and faculty were a part of the experiment, a shared journey to create a more caring and inclusive world, regardless of sex, religion, or ethnicity. The practice of the arts was a way of life.

Within this experimental lifestyle of art and creation operated many increasingly acclaimed women artists, given the opportunity to explore and revolutionize their craft in a manner unconventional for the restrictive, often misogynistic attitudes towards women of the time. Black Mountain College afforded many women like Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, M.C. Richards, Hazel Larsen Archer, Susann Weil, Elaine DeKooning and Mary Parks a space to create, educate, and learn, resulting in work that was a synesthetic exploration of medium and process with a lasting power that still speaks to creatives today.

This session explores a selection of women artists, extending from M.C. Richard’s synthesis of poetry and pottery to Anni Albers’ constant evolution of weaving from craft to fine art, seeking to investigate the submerged history of women not just as artists, but as educators, revolutionaries of their craft, as innovators, and now as icons vital to any study of Art history and a liberal arts education through Black Mountain College.


Astrid Bridgwood: M.C. Richards: Exploring the Synthesis of Poetry to Pottery

This paper investigates how M.C. Richard’s background as a poet influenced her artistic practice as a potter during her time teaching, learning, and working at Black Mountain College. Using resources found through digital libraries, her own writing, the Western Regional Archives, and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Library, her philosophies, teaching methods, and artistic and academic processes are explored. Her work, both poetic and ceramic, are holistically analyzed; this paper allows for an understanding of how M.C. Richards, as an artist and teacher, broke down the barriers between two distinct art forms, poetry and pottery, to create her own unique practice. Also investigated is the educational environment fostered by Black Mountain College itself; an environment which encouraged interdisciplinary learning, influencing the literary and ceramic practices of Richards as an artist and educator. Though an exploration of both Richards’ personal philosophy and the philosophy of the College, this paper recognizes how Richards’ poetry and ceramic work intertwined.

Astrid Bridgwood is a Junior at Queens University studying Art History, Arts Leadership and Administration, and Philosophy. A 2022 Inducted Noble Fellow, a Queens University of Charlotte Davies Fellow, and a Queens Civic Engagement Fellow, she is currently researching Buckminster Fuller’s ideas about liberal arts education at Black Mountain College and beyond.


Siu Challons-Lipton: Anni Albers: Exploring the Material, Exploring Life

At Black Mountain College women were expected to question, to think critically, to explore. Anni Albers’ weaving workshop at Black Mountain fused Bauhaus material exploration with life exploration. Under Anni the weaving workshop was a creative center that taught students to explore the intersection between art and craft through ‘pictorial weavings’ of modern art. She and Josef were the exception at Bauhaus with careers of equivalent status, exchanging ideas, both pedagogical and aesthetic, for 50 years. Through digital libraries, her own words, the Western Regional Archives, and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Library, Anni’s pedagogy and artistic approach are explored, as is the impact she had on those she taught in and created with.

Siu Challons-Lipton is Executive Director of the Department of Art, Design, and Music and Professor of Art History at Queens University, where she created a class on Black Mountain College. Her research, which spans numerous presentations, articles, and a co-edited book, focuses on the value of the arts as experienced at the college.


Katie Pittman: Women of the Woods

Women of the Woods: A Women’s Role and Experience at Black Mountain College discusses the lifestyle and academic careers of prominent women artists that taught and learned at Black Mountain College. While analyzing the overall experience at the school, Women of the Woods also takes a closer look at the lives of a few women who were present on campus during its pivotal years, exploring how their identities and experiences as women influenced their creative practices and processes. Focusing on Elaine De Kooning, Ruth Asawa, and Alma Stone Williams, this essay dives into their academic and artistic exploits that began at Black Mountain and continued after their departure from the school.

Katie Pittman is a Junior at Queens University studying Art History, Arts Leadership and Administration, and Interfaith Studies. She is VP of Events and Programming in the Alpha Omicron chapter of Kappa Delta, part of the Interfaith Leadership Council, member of National History Society Phi Alpha Theta, and Resident Assistant for freshmen students living in the Hayes Honors Community.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2:15 – 3:45pm: SESSION NO. 2 Room 207

Charles Olson Outside of the Western Box: In Search of the Primary, Session 2

Moderator: Jeffrey Gardiner

Jeff Davis: Olson’s Guides to Paradise

As Charles Olson’s attentions in the last decade of his life shifted to questions of the soul, he came to rely on a range of guides to spiritual vision – especially Henry Corbin, of course. But there were others in the company as well, some writers he’d followed since his time at Black Mountain, others more recent to his inquiry. Among them were two writers critical to his understanding of the earliest ages of humankind, Gertrude Rachel Levy and Christopher Hawkes. He’d drawn on their work during 1952 and ’53, when he was preparing for and creating the Institute for the New Sciences of Man, held in the spring of 1953. That another of the later company was the great Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, suggests for us that the range of Olson’s inquiry was typically extensive and inclusive. This paper will focus on the import of the human body as noted by Olson in these lectures and the import of these lectures to his developing poetics.

Jeff Davis has hosted the weekly radio program “Wordplay” since 2005, currently heard on and WSFM, 103.3. His poetry has been published in the Asheville Poetry Review, the Nantahala Review, Kakalak, Iodine, and other print and online journals. His NatureS: Selected Poems, 1972-2005, was published in 2006. Another manuscript awaits publication.


Gary Grieve-Carlson: “that fantastic condition of the human race when everything mattered”

When Charles Olson writes in the Mayan Letters that Ezra Pound’s Guide to Kulchur is limited by “the poet’s admitted insistence he will stay inside the Western Box” (SW 129), readers may take that “Box” to be primarily geographic. In some ways this is accurate, for throughout his work we find Olson celebrating non-Western peoples such as the Maya, the Hittites, the Phoenicians, and the Sumerians. But Olson’s problem with Pound’s approach is fundamentally not geographic. In that same letter, Olson identifies the issue as neither geography nor “technique” (by which he means the technique or methodology of disciplines such as archeology or history), but as “disposition, to reality” (SW 128). In this paper I want to explore the roots of Olson’s thinking about that “disposition,” beginning with Call Me Ishmael (published in 1947 but written in 1945), his Notes for the poem West (probably from 1946, published in Olson #5), “Projective Verse” (published in 1950, and articulated in letters to Boldereff and Creeley in that same year), and ending with “The Gate & the Center.” In these texts we find Olson presenting two fundamentally different “dispositions” toward reality that provide templates for two fundamentally different ways of being human.

Gary Grieve-Carlson was a Fulbright Junior Lecturer in the Federal Republic of Germany and is now a Professor of English at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA. He is the author of Poems Containing History: 20th-Century American Poetry’s Engagement with the Past and the editor of Olson’s Prose. His essays have appeared in many US and international literary journals.


Joseph Pizza: Olson, Oppenheimer, and “Black Mountain North”

As scholars have noted for some time, Charles Olson’s influence extended well beyond the confines of Black Mountain College. Indeed, in the period just after the college’s closure in 1957, former colleagues and students like Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, John Wieners, and Joel Oppenheimer would extend the influence of Olson’s projectivist poetics to distant communities in San Francisco, Boston, and New York. Focusing on the latter, I would like to explore further Olson’s influence on the New York downtown scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s as an instance of his search outside the Western box, particularly in terms of race. Though often overlooked by scholars, Joel Oppenheimer played a pivotal role in disseminating Olson’s ideas and creating what would come to be termed “Black Mountain North.” In fact, Oppenheimer’s friendships with Amiri Baraka (then LeRoi Jones), Diane di Prima, and A.B. Spellman, among others, helped to forge interracial communities inspired by Olson’s poetics and Black Mountain’s progressive ethos. By taking a closer look at Oppenheimer’s negotiation of projectivist poetics here, then, I hope to further our understanding of Olson’s influence on interracial poetic communities in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Joseph Pizza is an Associate Professor of English at Belmont Abbey College, where he has taught courses in Modern and Contemporary Poetry, African American Studies, and Writing and Rhetoric. He is the author of the forthcoming monograph Dissonant Voices: Race, Jazz, and Innovative Poetics in Midcentury America and has recently published work on Jayne Cortez, T.S. Eliot, Nathaniel Mackey, and Diane di Prima.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2:15 – 3:45pm: WORKSHOP – Room 230

Katherine Agard: performance-lecture/writing workshop on Amino, Whitten and others speculating on ‘ghostly’ influences, lineage, and spiritual practices  (60-75 minutes)

Jack Whitten was a student of Leo Amino’s. In Tales from the Woodshed, he writes ‘Do not rely on GHOST [for painting]’. What might this mean, to rely on a ghost? Who are the ghosts that we rely on when making? This will be a performance-lecture/writing workshop asking participants to write poetry on Amino, Whitten and other artists’ work, speculating on ‘ghostly’ influences in the work, as well as the ways that spiritual practices appear and disappear (become assimilated) into traditions of art-making at large in the context of Black Mountain College. How do we talk about lineage, of blood as well as influence and education?

Katherine Agyemaa Agard is a Trinidadian writer currently based in San Francisco. Her first book, of colour, was long listed for the 2021 Bocas Award in Caribbean Literature.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2:15 – 3:45pm: PERFORMANCE – Manheimer Room

Casey Edwards and David Berger: Exploring the Merrill Gillespie Collection: A Brief Overview and Lecture Recital of the Manuscripts Contained Therein (45 minutes)

This performance workshop will begin with a 20-25 minute presentation of various sheet music works located in the Merrill Gillespie Collection at BMCM+AC, notably the incidental music used in the College’s performance of WB Yeats’ “The Death of Cucchulain”, which has been documented in other works. The presentation will outline facets of the collection, such as what it contains and potential historical implications of the items to provide context and historical relevance. The second section will focus on performance of some of the material in the collection, such as the aforementioned incidental music as well as other works that are applicable to the performers’ instruments, and it will last approximately 20 minutes.

David Berger, pianist, holds music degrees from Ohio State University and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He conducted professional opera for 20 years, and has served as accompanist/coach/chorusmaster for many opera companies. He teaches piano and voice privately, has taught K-college music and currently resides in Greenville, SC.

Casey Edwards, MM, MLIS, is an interdisciplinary academic who specializes in vocal music and archival materials. During an internship at BMCM+AC, he focused his practicum project on a collection analysis of the sheet music existing at the facility. As a performer, he focuses on the tenorino repertoire. He currently serves as a board member for the Asheville Gay Men’s Chorus.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 4:00 – 5:30pm: SESSION NO. 1 – Room 206

Moderator: Angel Bellaran

William W. Graham: A Voice from the Margin: An Exploration of Boundaries and Art

Self taught while incarcerated, I also had the opportunity to teach art to other prisoners. This is part of a life that has crossed many boundaries, going from mainstream to the margin; from a highly educated, professional white family to would be 60’s revolutionary to felon to working class. Those personal experiences are the primary source of this presentation and include perspectives gained from my involvement with BMCMAC. Others include Unflattening by Nick Sousanis. A PhD dissertation as comic book, it highlights the need to sustain multiple points of view and open doorways. That the telling of stories, in whatever form, is part of the very core of humanity. Another source of inspiration is the storytelling of Zora Neal Hurston. Her dedication to humanizing and legitimizing Black America showed that dialog across boundaries is possible and can teach and enrich both sides. The same is true where art is concerned for both felons and the working class. When properly presented with opportunities to interact with art, including abstract art, they will respond positively. Further, that prisoners are capable of creating, evaluating and appreciating art, and the cultures that produce it. That the process doing so can have very positive results, as it can be one effective way of countering the dehumanizing effects of prison. In all, my primary purpose is to provide information and perspectives that are probably unfamiliar to most. And hopefully to challenge some thinking and assumptions, an exercise well within the ethos of BMC. I will posit that the realities of incarceration must be included in any honest conversation about race. That there is a role of art in dealing with the issues involved and that arts community can have a very real impact those realities.

William W. Graham From being raised on the campus of a seminary to fugitive to nearly three decades in prison, William Grahams’ life has taken him across many boundaries and from the mainstream to the margin. While incarcerated, he became a self taught artist and taught art to other prisoners.


Simon Packard: Ice, Offal: Why Ask a Photographer to Draw? The Packard Process

To renew curriculum
Is to set a new course
To set sights anew
To re-view, re-vise,
i.e. to have a new vision
a new way of seeing
a new understanding.


These words by M.C.Richards from The Crossing Point I included in my application for post of Academic Course Leader and Senior Lecturer for Integrated Foundation Course at University of Gloucestershire back in August. I have a signed copy. I often trace the fountain pen sinuous line to try and take me to Black Mountain College.

My ongoing PhD, titled, “Ice, Offal: Why ask a Photographer to draw?” looks into the long-term benefits for creatives after their involvement in projects of expanded drawing designed by me, such as Colour Capture: Chance and Chromatics based on Albers’ colour teachings. Dance too plays a big role in collaborative projects with students working together for performances. To share these at conference would be a dream come true.

The 52 projects I reflect on in my PhD include spaces learning takes place and the Creative Ecology of place, the people and practice. I designed The Drawing Room for my then employer South Gloucestershire and Stroud College in 2018. This was an anticipatory space where drawing in-the-round took place, music and drama too. What happened in there for both me and the students was life affirming,

Discussing this at conference both in the UK and worldwide it is seen as linked to other happenings in UK education, such the Locked Room in the 1970’s London. I believe my work as an educator is underpinned by introducing Black Mountain College to students. Recently, I created The Research Project. Students are asked to make a physical object featuring research. One student made ceramic tiles using Anni Albers sketchbooks. These outcomes I want to share at Black Mountain College.

Simon Packard is Academic Course Leader and Senior Lecturer for integrated Foundation Year at University of Gloucestershire, UK and Tutor in Fine Art and Drawing for 30 years. He is a designer of drawing spaces where inter-discipline learning is encouraged. His on-going PhD examines the role of expanded drawing projects and bespoke learning spaces on student employment and making 4 years after college. Black Mountain College underpins the projects within the research project.


Mark Small: Wallen and Penn — Setting the Stage for the Demise of BMC

Social engineering and the pseudo-sciences of management have overshadowed liberal and fine arts education. This historical trend has had its critics in Folk Education like Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvg in Denmark; like John C. Campbell in our Southern Highlands mountains; like John Dewey who directed a Children’s School during the hey days of Lake Chautauqua’s symposia; like Alexander Sutherland Neill founder of Summerhill boarding school in England; like Maria Montessori who’s pre-schools reached around the world from her home in Italy —reformers all. Black Mountain College, too, had its historical figures intent upon student-centered experiential learning to benefit not only individuals but also societies at large. The influences of John Wallen and his group process classes along with Arthur Penn’s learning and teaching theater practices will set the stage for my Reviewing BMC, but also for Reviewing other historical narratives about learning and then teaching moral integrity that reach across cultural, social, educational, and spiritual boundaries too often drawn as hard lines in the sand.

Mark Small has lived in the Asheville region for over 30 years after summering here all his life. A retired wilderness instructor and camp director, he is a religious educator, teacher of academically gifted children, and Presbyterian Church minister who has traveled widely, serving Native American and small church communities. As a child actor, he was apprenticed to Vincent Price and Danny Thomas.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 4:00 – 5:30pm: SESSION NO. 2 – Room 207

Moderator: Sarah Ehlers

Matt Garite: From Black Mountain to White Hand: Olson on Peyote

While various Olson scholars have weighed in regarding the meaning of Black Mountain poet Charles Olson’s use of the figure of Typhon in Book IV of The Maximus Poems, few of these scholars have noted Olson’s decision to publish “Maximus, from Dogtown—IV,” the poem of Olson’s that most directly engages with Typhon, in a 1964 issue of Timothy Leary’s journal, the Psychedelic Review. “Maximus, from Dogtown—IV” was written in the wake of Olson’s participation in a series of peyote experiments conducted by Leary and poet Allen Ginsberg’s group, the White Hand Society. In my paper, I propose that Olson’s poem be read as a mythopoetic rendering of psychedelic consciousness informed by the poet’s study of gnosticism and the occult. Having been gifted a vision, the poet tried to share that vision with others. The paper ends by comparing Olson’s Typhon of the early 1960s with the Typhon that appears from 1973 onward in the nine books of British occultist Kenneth Grant’s Typhonian Trilogies.

Matt Garite is a Professor of English at Wake Forest University, specializing in the study of 20th and 21st century American literature, with an emphasis on the literature of the 1960s and 1970s counterculture.


Elliot Inman: From Digitization to Discovery: Applying Data Science to the Art of John Cage, Stan VanDerBeek, and Anni Albers

Considerable effort has gone into digitizing college publications, photographs, and correspondence documenting the history of Black Mountain College, but less effort has gone into creating validated high-resolution shared digital images of the actual work products and art made by BMC teachers and students. Digitization of the actual art, itself – music, film, and visual artworks (both 2D and 3D) – will open new opportunities for digital humanities scholars to apply data science technologies to understanding the artistic methods Black Mountain College artists invented, practiced, and popularized. This paper makes the case for the value of digitization by analyzing three types of art using three different methods. The first study is a previously conducted text mining study of the text of John Cage’s Defense of Satie (1948). Using statistical methods and data visualization, that study showed that the theme of the text was not, in fact, the title and how Cage deliberately changed his focus over the timeline of the narrative. The second study is a digital analysis of Stan VanDerBeek’s Breathdeath (1963), a film collage of herky-jerky black-and-white vignettes sped up and slowed down to the sounds of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ song I Put a Spell on You. Analyzing the digital print of the audio reveals exactly how VanDerBeek manipulated the timing during the re-construction of film slices. Finally, a third example uses computer vision algorithms with Anni Albers’s Six Prayers (1965-66), a set of six panels of “pictorial weavings,” to analyze the patterns within and across the six panels, focusing on Albers’s original alphabet of irregular lines woven against a pattern of beige, black, white, and silver. Using computer vision algorithms, we are able first to “see” the gestalt of the angled lines crossing the panels. But we are also able to extract the individual elements of Albers’s irregular alphabet to see the degree to which individual “letters” were repeated and how often. Computer vision algorithms applied to the work provide a new interpretation of Albers’s work, allowing us, with the aid of electronic eyes, to “see” anew. Following those demonstrations, this paper discusses some of the challenges of digitization (ownership, digital authentication) and the benefits realized by “data sharing” in other fields.

Elliot Inman holds a BA in English from NC State University and a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Kentucky. He works at a software company implementing machine learning and data visualization research and also leads workshops in electronics, musical experimentation, and creative coding.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 4:00 – 5:30pm: PERFORMANCE – Room 120

Paul Bright: Ferromusica, and a consideration of sound collage, decollage and composition (45 minutes)

I began making sound collages over ten years ago, in tandem with my material collages using de-collaged material; paper I had removed, torn, or collected from posters and advertisements in public places. I use the same method to record sounds that I encounter, and these are subsequently combined, cut, and layered into audio collages. I’ve learned that intentional presentations of these works are the most compelling and rewarding. Sound and music too easily become only a background to our vision-centered world and activities. On previous occasions when I’ve presented them – in an urban plaza slated for demolition, in a warehouse space undergoing renovation, in a 15th century Scottish chapel, an unfinished Frank Gehry structure, and yes, in gallery settings – I briefly introduce the work, play it once, pause, and play it once more before discussing it with the audience. Playing it twice is effective; the first time it’s heard, people are listening for patterns that might help them anticipate what’s next. The second time, listeners can shift their level of engagement and dig deeper into the work’s subtleties and textures.

Paul Bright is the Director of Art Galleries and Collections at Wake Forest University. Following a concentration in printmaking, Bright adopted collage as an approach and continues to employ it across mediums. His professional history includes exhibitions, projects, residencies and collections in the US and around the globe. Bright has also maintained an active parallel life as an arts professional in art museums, history museums and art galleries, as a graphic designer, exhibition designer, and curator.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 4:00 – 5:30pm: WORKSHOP – Room 230

Laura Mullen and Lee Ann Brown: Into the Light: Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop Based on the Work of Leo Amino

Working with questions that emerge from our experience of the sculptures as well as an enlarged understanding of the artist’s experiments with processes and materials, we’ll immerse ourselves in a responsive practice that blurs critical and creative modes. In this workshop session we’ll take up the progressive mandate of the BMC context to generate new modes, approaches, and strategies for writing “about” artworks, and work both individually and in collaboration. Among the questions fueling the encounter: how might we make spaces for caught light to converse in, what shapes from Surrealism might we cite or transform, what might it mean to—in writing—work with transparency, opacity, shadow, and illumination? Works by Amino may be visited at the Black Mountain College Museum, but images will be projected in the space for this workshop Participants should plan to bring writing instruments (whatever mode you work well in) and a playful, process-oriented spirit to this engagement with the works of the sculptor: all genres welcome.

Lee Ann Brown, Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellow, teaches poetry at St. John’s University in Queens, NYC, edits the independent Tender Buttons Press, and co-creates poetry happenings. In her many works, including her recent publication The Other Archer, she uses collage methods and song forms.

Laura Mullen is the author of eight books; recognition for her poetry includes a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award. Recent poems have appeared in Fence, Together in a Sudden Strangeness, and Bettering American Poetry. Her translation of Veronique Pittolo’s Hero was published by Black Square Editions, and her translation of work by Stephanie Chaillou has just appeared in Interim. A collection of poems is forthcoming from Solid Objects Press in 2023.



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 4:00 – 5:30pm: PERFORMANCE – Reuter Center Patio

Ted, Laura, Nicholas, and Dylan Pope: GARDEN FOR LEO AMINO 

The GARDEN FOR LEO AMINO will begin growing on the patio earlier in the day; this process  will be streamed live on social media platforms. Conference attendees can witness the process on phones as the Garden is grown, or stop by and see it in person. After the Garden is fully grown, there will be a celebratory performance of poetry and music by the art collective currently known as Pitch Black Candlelight (Ted, Laura, Nicholas, and Dylan Pope). The audience is encouraged to join in the performance, to pluck elements of the Garden/Sculpture, trumpets, drums, rattles and other flowers, and PLAY!

Dylan Pope was fine with subtitles in films by age 5.

Laura Pope is a classically trained musician with a degree and experience in Music Therapy.

Ted Pope, whose life began on a Strategic Air Command base, was not at all surprised by the absurdity of Dr. Strangelove when he saw the famous Kubrick film as a teen. A performance poet and artist whose work is influenced by his unique family history and experiences, he is the self-described “Warm and Fuzzy Wall between Church and State.” His works include Varve (2013), rEdlipstick (2005), and Jousting from the Back of a Mule (2020).

Saint Nicholas Archer Pope is a Saint, musician, and artist. He will be making his contribution online from Spain.