Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957

I had the pleasure of watching an in-gallery performance by dancers from the L.A Dance Project. The dancers from the L.A. Dance Project performed excerpts from Springweather and People (1955), Suite for Five (1956), Changeling (1957), and other early work by Merce Cunningham. Music by Christian Wolff and John Cage in the foreground was performed by pianist Aron Kallay.  Of course while watching this, I did not know much about what was going on, except what I could hear and see. I saw leaping, dramatization, expression change,  a story was unfolding before my eyes that I did not know much about.

It was only once I looked into Black Mountain College that I came to appreciate what this performance meant. Starting in the 1930s Black Mountain college was a seminal meeting place for many of the artists, musicians, poets, and thinkers who would become the principal practitioners of the postwar period. This renowned experimental college placed the arts at the center in an effort to better educate citizens for participation in a democratic society. It was profoundly interdisciplinary with an emphasis on inquiry, discussion, and experimentation, it gave equal attention to the visual arts and applied arts or crafts like weaving, pottery, and jewelry-making, as well as architecture, poetry, music, and dance.

The exhibition itself contained a varied mixture of materials in the areas of painting, sculpture, weaving, and pottery. There are also documentary photographs and other archival ephemera placed throughout the room. All this material emphasized bridging the gap between art and life, and the creation of a counter-culture that was existent in the 1960's. With its Post-War Origins it is apparent to notice throughout the exhibition the dialogue that is occurring between Democracy, Globalism, and Art. How one could create and emerge from destruction in a world that had not created in so long. The overlap, the interaction of art with culture, the interaction of art and post war society, that ability to create and express what needed to be let out, is what makes this exhibition all the more amazing.

1 comment:

  1. I also went to this exhibition, and had a great time, learning about their works and their method of teaching. I really enjoyed learning about this college.