Skip to main content

Activity Idea: Black Mountain College (Quick Tip)

Black Mountain College, a school founded in 1933 in Black Mountain, North Carolina (near Asheville, North Carolina), was a new kind of college in the United States in which the study of art was seen to be central to a liberal arts education, and in which John Dewey's principles of education played a major role. Many of the school's students and faculty were influential in the arts or other fields, or went on to become influential. Although notable even during its short life, the school closed in 1957 after only 24 years. The history and legacy of Black Mountain College are preserved and extended through Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, in downtown Asheville, NC.

The artists below were all at one point associated with Black Mountain College.

Use the following strategies to explore artists associated with Black Mountain College.

  1. Using a Venn diagram [], compare Black Mountain College [] with your school to explore how the schools are similar and different. Areas to consider are education requirements, facilities, location and the role of the arts.Albers
  2. Select two or three sheets of paper of different colors. Use the paper to create a collage of geometric shapes. Pay attention to how the colors interact with each other. Do any of the colors appear to blend to create a new color? Does one of the colors appear to change shades when placed next to different colors? Share your work with your classmates to study the effects of the different color combinations used by the class.Bireline
  3. Using George Bireline’s Matisse Window as a model, design a simple scene using different colors, not black and white, to represent the details in your scene. Consider how the colors work together to emphasize certain areas of the scene. What color combination makes an object in your scene stand out? What combination makes an object in your scene blend in? What color combinations might you change to create a different effect?Albers4. Imagine that you are Josef Albers. You don’t know much English, and you are coming to the Mountains of North Carolina from Nazi Germany to teach at Black Mountain College in 1933. Write a journal entry exploring your feelings about this move. How did you feel about leaving Germany? What will you miss? Coming from Germany, what do you expect Black Mountain College and the town of Black Mountain to be like?