Vera Baker Williams

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
January 26 – May 11, 2024
Jacob Lawrence and Larry Paul King, Installation for adVANCE!

Andy Oates, Vera Williams, ca. 1950. Collection of BMCM+AC.

Vera Baker Williams attended BMC from 1945-1950 when she became one of the few to formally graduate. She was a student of Josef Albers and had sculptor Richard Lippold as her outside examiner prior to graduation. She married architect Paul Williams at the college and, with him, co-founded the artists’ co-op community called The Land in Stony Point, New York. Ms. Williams was an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books that often centered on diverse, working-class families, perhaps informed by her own childhood growing up during the Depression as the daughter of immigrants from Eastern Europe.

The Land at Stony Point, also known as Gatehill Cooperative, became an outcropping of Black Mountain College’s experimental ethos. It was inspired by a BMC faculty member Paul Goodman’s Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life, which he lectured on at the Summer Institute of 1950. BMC luminaries John Cage, Merce Cunningham, David Tudor, M.C. Richards, Karen Karnes, David Weinrib, Stan VanDerBeek, and Patsy Lynch Wood shaped Gate Hill as founding members of the community alongside Vera Baker and Paul Williams.

Curated by Alice Sebrell, Director of Preservation