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Black Mountain
College Project

Nell Goldsmith Heyns    


Date of birth:

1943 Summer Work Camp



When a high school senior in
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Nell  university such as the University of Wisconsin. At a Christmastime tea, she saw Ruth O’Neill Burnette, who had graduated a year ahead of her and was enrolled at  BlackMountain College. Ruth spoke enthusiastically of Black Mountain and gave her a catalogue. She was accepted and spent the summer in upstate New York where her aunt, also Nell Goldsmith, ran Camp Woodlea, a summer camp for children. On her way south to Black Mountain, she stopped in New York and had her “first drink in a New York bar” with Peter Hill, her “step-second-cousin,” who had attended the Black Mountain as had his sister Barbara Hill Steinau. 

Heyns took a general curriculum with an emphasis on architecture. At the time both Lawrence Kocher and Anatole Kopp were teaching. She also took drawing with Josef Albers and weaving with Anni Albers. Although the building program had almost come to a stop because of the war, she helped construct four music practice cubicles. At the end of the second year she was admitted to the Senior Division with an architecture major.

Pottery by Nell Goldsmith Heyns.


[Note: Both Nell Goldsmith Heyns and her brother Fred Goldsmith attended Black Mountain as did their “step-second-cousins” Peter Hill and Barbara Hill Steinau. Her first cousin Gerda Slavson Cooke, the daughter of her aunt Nell Goldsmith, later enrolled.]








Nell Goldsmith Heyns at Black Mountain
College. Photo courtesy Heyns. All rights

Heyns left
Black Mountain after her second year to join the war effort. She enlisted in the Army and was assigned to Homestead Army Air Base in Homestead, Florida. When they learned she had taken architectural courses, she was briefly given drafting projects. Thereafter, she was assigned to make name plates for officers’s desks and other signs for the duration of the war. She met her husband Hugo Heyns, an artist, at the Homestead. He later became an architect, and they lived in the New Orleans area where he had his practice.

Heyns recalled that even at BlackMountain her ultimate goal was to be a homemaker and rear a family. She and her husband had seven children over a seventeen year period. She has studied and taught ceramics as a hobby.

She presently lives with her husband in Mississippi.