In a world as chaotic as the European world after World War I, any exploratory artistic work had to be experimental in a very comprehensive sense. What had existed had proved to be wrong; everything leading up to it seemed to be wrong, too… At the Bauhaus, those beginning to work in textiles at that time, for example, were fortunate not to have had the traditional training in the craft: it is no easy task to throw useless conventions overboard.

­– Anni Albers (Faculty Weaving and Textile Design 1933-1949), Weaving at the Bauhaus, 1938.

Anni Albers’ weaving workshop at Black Mountain College was built upon her Bauhaus principles of material exploration. While the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus became a subversive space of female expression after women were barred from “heavy crafts” such as painting and architecture, all students at Black Mountain College, regardless of gender, found their way to the weaving workshop, not by exclusion but through curiosity and a drive to investigate new methods of shaping form, color, and dimension. Under Anni Albers’ leadership the weaving workshop was a hub of creativity where students wove functional objects such as placemats and napkins as well as experimental pieces that explored the characteristics of their materials.

Notable artworks and ephemera

A loom from the BMC weaving workshop, Janet Heling Roberts’ set of fiber samples on index cards, and student Faith Murray’s painted mural of a weaver on the original door to the Weaving Workshop and Art Room. Exhibited in the Spring 2020 exhibition Question Everything! The Women of Black Mountain College.

Anni Albers (Faculty Weaving and Textile Design 1933-1949) (b.1899-d.1994) Untitled, 1950 Cotton and bast Promised Gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Temporary loan to BMCM+AC.

Faith Murray Britton (Student 1941-1942) (b.1922-d.1983), Weaving Workshop Door, ca. 1941-1944, oil paint on wood. On temporary loan from the private collection of Louise Britton.

Faith Murray painting door to the Weaving Workshop, ca. 1941-1944. Courtesy of the Western Regional Archives.

Janet Heling Roberts (Student 1940s), Fiber Samples for Anni Albers’ Weaving Class, mid 1940s, fiber and paper. Collection of Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Gift of the Artist.