MSA Excursion to the Institute of Contemporary Art’s exhibit:
Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957

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Friday, November 20

Please join us for an evening at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art to visit the acclaimed exhibit, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, as well as the rest of the ICA’s remarkable collection.

Buses will load at the Westin Entrance at 5:15, with one return trip at 8: 30 and another at 9 pm.

You might consider grabbing a bite at the ICA’s The Water Café or at a number of nearby restaurants (see our Guide for recommendations).

Cost: $10, inclusive of transportation


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Founded in 1933 in North Carolina, Black Mountain College (BMC) was a seminal meeting place for many of the 20th Century’s most influential artists, musicians, dancers, poets, and thinkers: Anni and Josef Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Buckminster Fuller, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Charles Olson, Merce Cunningham, and John Cage. BMC was also a unique, interdisciplinary liberal arts college and an experimental hub for the utopian ideals of the progressive education movement. Having brought the Bauhaus experiments to American modernism, BMC has profoundly influenced art practice and pedagogy in ways that are still evident today.

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Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 is the first comprehensive U.S. museum exhibition on BMC. Organized by Helen Molesworth, the ICA’s former Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with ICA Assistant Curator Ruth Erickson, the exhibit features 261 objects by nearly 100 artists, including, student work, archival materials, a soundscape, a piano and dance floor for performances.

In lieu of a Friday evening keynote, a series of gallery talks and discussions will be offered by distinguished experts on BMC, including:

Ruth Erickson (ICA Curator): General introduction to the exhibition.

Steve Evans (University of Maine): From Anni and Josef Albers’ Black Mountain College to Charles Olson’s. Room 6: Pottery & Poetry.

Stephen Fredman (University of Notre Dame): “Art as Experience” for John Dewey and Charles Olson Room 3: Pedagogy.

Carrie Noland (University of California, Irvine): Merce Cunningham & Robert Rauschenberg Room 5: Haptic.

Check out the series of three roundtables on the MSA Program discussing Black Mountain College and modernism:

Black Mountain College (I): Interdisciplinarity

This roundtable will examine the range of interdisciplinary work that Black Mountain College fostered both through its dynamically evolving curriculum and its innovative summer institutes.

Mary Ann Caws (CUNY Graduate School)
Steve Evans (University of Maine)
Katherine Markoski (Smithsonian American Art Museum/Johns Hopkins University)
Carrie Noland (University of California, Irvine)
Nancy Perloff (Getty Research Institute)

Black Mountain College (II): Conceptual Underpinnings

Exploring the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of the college’s pedagogical and artistic practices, this panel examines Whitehead/Olson, “The Special View of History,” noise aesthetics, “Ruse of the Medusa,” Dewey, Projectivism and Phenomenology, and Cage-Ranciere-Schiller.

Carla Billitteri (University of Maine at Orono)
Seth J. Forrest (Coppin State University)
Stephen Fredman (University of Notre Dame)
Elisabeth Joyce (Edinboro University)
Roger Rothman (Bucknell University)

Black Mountain College (III): Dispersed Publishing Networks

This roundtable explores the dispersed publishing networks associated with the college and its practices of textual scholarship.

Benjamin Friedlander (University of Maine)
Kaplan Harris (St. Bonaventure University)
Benjamin Lee (University of Tennessee)
Brian McAllister (Ohio University)
Alessandro Porco (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)