Black Mountain College Project
 


 

STUDENT EXPERIENCE IN EXPERIMENTAL EDUCATION IN THE EARLY YEARS
(1933-43)

Section 1. The Role of the Arts

   Moliere's The Physician in Spite of Himself, 1941. Photo: Fred Stone.  

INTRODUCTION TO THE SUNLEY PROJECT AND DOCUMENTS

Description of the Study by Robert Sunley
*   Letter to the Students
*   Guidelines
*   Brief Biographies of
    Contributors

*   Brief Biographies of
    Faculty Mentioned in
    the Memoirs
*

SECTION 1. ROLE OF THE ARTS

    Statement by Robert
    Sunley


The artistic process as
    a major goal.


*   Individual, active
    anticipation was
    fostered but not
    required.

*   Focus on really “seeing”
    and “thinking” for
    oneself, not on the
    production of art.


Self-direction, self-
    discipline, initiative,
    development of the
    whole person....

The arts were diffused
    throughout the
    education ....    

 

 

The Role of the Arts at Black Mountain College by Robert Sunley 

The fame of a number of artists and writers who were students or faculty in the later years (1943 on) has misled many to think that Black Mountain College was an “art school,” and so to overlook its origins and initial renown as an experimental liberal arts college. Yet the association of the arts with Black Mountain education did have a strong basis in the philosophy.

From the beginning, it was intended that the arts were to be a central (but not “the” central) part of the total educative process, not relegated to the usual minor role – a course or two which students could elect to take. The arts included painting, writing, drawing, constructions and assemblages, weaving, music, drama, architecture, photography, typography, design, dance – and some combinations of two or more.

Individual active experience of the artistic process – going beyond “appreciation” of art – was held to be a key to the way to understand and make use of knowledge and skills in many fields. The arts were to be brought into the core of college education and community life.

The memoir excerpts demonstrate that the lofty aims were largely realized in practice. 

Moliere's The Physician in Spite of Himself, 1941. Photo: Fred Stone.

SECTION 2. TEACHERS AND TEACHING

Introduction

Formal Aspects of the
Curriculum 

   Class Size 
   Grades    
   Advisors 
   Junior Division  
   Senior Division  
   Graduation

Methods of Teaching
   General

   John Andrew Rice 
   Josef Albers 
   Erwin Straus 
   Robert Wunsch 
   Others


Personalities of Faculty
  
John Rice  
   Josef Albers 
   Robert
Wunsch 
   Heinrich
Jalowetz  
   Others 

Outside the Classroom
   In General  
   The Work Program 
   Visitors -
   Trips 
   Drama 
   Interlude  
   Lectures, Concerts 
   Informal Interchange