Posts Tagged ‘9th Annual Reviewing Black Mountain College Conference’

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and the University of North Carolina Asheville to Present 9th Annual Reviewing Black Mountain College Conference in Asheville, NC – Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2017

July 31, 2017

International conference gathers artists and scholars who explore the history and legacy of the groundbreaking Black Mountain College, where Willem de Kooning, John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, Franz Kline and Robert Rauschenberg collaborated in the Mid-20th Century.

This Year’s Conference Introduces Two New Programs:

The BMCM+AC Performance Initiative, a Multi-Part Project Offering New Dimensions to the Museum’s Visual Art Exhibitions, Including Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ Multimedia Stage Work Black Mountain Songs, Curated by Bryce Dessner (The National) and Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and Performed During the Conference; and Dance Heginbotham’s The Principles of Uncertainty, a New Dance Theater Work from Choreographer John Heginbotham and Author/Illustrator Maira Kalman, in March 2018
The Active Archive, a Stream of Programs Pairing the Museum’s Extensive Collection with Contemporary Artists, Curators and Thinkers, Beginning with an Exhibition Curated by Interdisciplinary Artist Martha McDonald. Conference Will Include 60+ Presenters and Keynote Addresses by Mel Chin and the Black Mountain Songs Creative Team

The Black Mountain College Museum + ArtsCenter (BMCM+AC) and the University of North Carolina Asheville are pleased to announce the ninth annual ReVIEWING Black Mountain College conference, which brings together artists and scholars to explore the history and legacy of the pioneering Black Mountain College (BMC), Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2017, in Asheville, NC.

In the mid-20th Century, a group of American artists and European refugees including Josef and Anni Albers, Willem de Kooning, John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, Franz Kline and Robert Rauschenberg converged at the College and developed new artistic practices and an innovative culture of cross-disciplinary collaboration that came to define the American century. ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 9 celebrates and furthers the continuing relevance of this spirit.

Founded in 1933, Black Mountain College was one of the leading experimental liberal art schools in America until its closure in 1957. After the Bauhaus in Germany closed due to mounting antagonism from the Nazi Party, Josef and Anni Albers accepted an offer to join the BMC faculty. During their 16-year tenure in North Carolina, the Alberses helped model the college’s interdisciplinary curriculum on that of the Bauhaus, attracting an unmatched roster of teachers and students including many of the 20th century’s foremost American and European artists. Founded by arts advocate Mary Holden in 1993, BMCM+AC celebrates the history and impact of BMC as a forerunner in progressive interdisciplinary education through exhibitions, publications, lectures, films, seminars and oral histories. On July 1, 2016, BMCM+AC doubled its footprint in downtown Asheville, opening a second multi-use gallery space and study center, and developed a formal partnership with UNC Asheville.

The BMCM+AC Performance Initiative

Amidst a recent resurgence of public interest in Black Mountain College, BMCM+AC and UNC Asheville have launched a new Performance Initiative to offer residencies, workshops and performances of world-class interdisciplinary works that offer new dimensions to the Museum’s ambitious visual art exhibitions and illuminate and carry on the College’s legacy.

The BMCM+AC Performance Initiative kicks off during ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 9 with the Southeast Premiere of the acclaimed work Black Mountain Songs. Commissioned and produced by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and BAM, and curated by Bryce Dessner (The National) and Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Black Mountain Songs is inspired by Black Mountain College, its prolific community of artists, and their work, and rekindles the College’s utopian spirit. The Chorus performs music written for them by eight composers: Dessner and Parry, as well as Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly, Aleksandra Vrebalov, John King, Tim Hecker, and Jherek Bischoff. Featuring contributions from filmmaker Matt Wolf (Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell), Black Mountain Songs is an expansive choral and visual work. This exquisite production premiered at BAM in 2014. New Amsterdam Records released an acclaimed recording of the work—Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ first album—earlier this year.

The BMCM+AC Performance Initiative will continue during the week of March 13, 2018, when BMCM+AC and UNC Asheville present The Principles of Uncertainty, a new evening-length dance theater work by choreographer John Heginbotham and author/illustrator Maira Kalman. Heginbotham will direct and choreograph the work, while Kalman will oversee all elements of design—sets, props, projections and costumes. Kalman will also be present on stage, alongside six members of Dance Heginbotham, an actor and live musicians. Composer Colin Jacobsen—a member of string quartet Brooklyn Rider, chamber ensemble The Knights, and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble—serves as Music Director of the project. Members of The Knights will perform live.

Active Archive: Martha McDonald

“We do not always create ‘works of art,’ but rather experiments; it is not our ambition to fill museums: we are gathering experience.”—Josef Albers, Artist, Black Mountain College Faculty 1933-49

The Active Archive represents an ambitious new direction for Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC), both programmatically and artistically. While BMCM+AC has included contemporary work in past exhibitions, this will be the first time it commissions new work and offers an artist residency.

The Active Archive Initiative will give interdisciplinary artist Martha McDonald time to conduct research, incubate ideas, and make new work. In the research and planning phase of the project, she will explore how objects and ideas from the museum’s collection, the historic Lake Eden campus, and the city of Asheville itself can be stitched together to reveal new dimensions of the Black Mountain College (BMC) story, and how it connects to contemporary culture and art practice.

Martha McDonald is an interdisciplinary artist whose performances and installations feature handcrafted costumes and objects that she activates through gestures of making, unmaking and singing to transmit narrative. McDonald’s practice often focuses on site-specific “interventions” in historic house museums, rare book libraries, cultural institutions, and botanic gardens to investigate the sites and their stories in order to explore how public places connect with personal histories and emotional states. Her work involves deep archive/collections research in order to uncover hidden or forgotten histories. She invites audiences to experience sites and collections from an artist’s perspective.

McDonald’s project will bring the archive and ideas of BMC alive between Sept. 29 and Dec. 30, 2017, in both BMCM+AC exhibition spaces in downtown Asheville. The project includes an exhibition, a 96-page catalogue, and community programs including a performance, conference presentation, and a gallery walk-through/talk. McDonald’s Active Archive work will create a contemporary platform to advance the discourse surrounding the living ideas and history of BMC. The result will be a gathering place for community conversations among artists, audiences, scholars and students within the new exhibition.

In one gallery, McDonald will curate an exhibition of BMC artwork exploring the importance of color, process and experimentation at BMC. The second gallery will focus on BMC’s rich history of experimental theatre and performance art, stretching from Xanti Schawinsky’s early Bauhaus-inspired theater experiments in 1937-38 through the first Happening at BMC in 1952, conceived by John Cage and David Tudor and including Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, MC Richards and Charles Olson.

Conference Presenters and Keynote Addresses

ReVIEWING Black Mountain College will feature over 60 interdisciplinary presenters from across the United States as well as Lithuania, Russia, and Canada. Topics addressed will include the artistic practices of BMC artists Josef and Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Ray Johnson, Merce Cunningham, and John Cage as well as the poetics of Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Hilda Morley, and John Weiners. The conference will feature two keynote addresses: one by conceptual artist Mel Chin, on Friday, September 29, and another, about the composition and performance of Black Mountain Songs, in the form of a panel discussion with members of the creative team and others, on Saturday, Sept. 30.

Ticketing and Locations

Most of the events comprising ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 9 will take place on the UNC Asheville campus at the Reuter Center. Advance tickets are $40 for current members of BMCM+AC and UNC Asheville’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and $75 for non-members (BMCM+AC annual membership included). This price will increase to $100 for non-members at the door on Sept. 29. Optional discounted tickets to the Black Mountain Songs performances, on Sept. 29 & 30, are available to conference attendees for $10, along with an optional tour of the BMC Lake Eden Campus on Oct. 1 for $15. Both add-ons can be purchased with conference admission at (reviewing.brownpapertickets.com).

The Black Mountain Songs performances will take place at the Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville. Tickets can be purchased for $20 ($12 for those aged 18 and under) here.

About the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) preserves and continues the legacy of educational and artistic innovation of Black Mountain College (BMC). The institution achieves its mission through collection, conservation and educational activities including exhibitions, publications and public programs.

Arts advocate Mary Holden founded BMCM+AC in 1993 to celebrate the history of Black Mountain College as a forerunner in progressive interdisciplinary education and to explore its extraordinary impact on modern and contemporary art, dance, theater, music and performance. Today, the museum remains committed to educating the public about BMC’s history and raising awareness of its extensive legacy. BMCM+AC’s goal is to provide a gathering point for people from a variety of backgrounds to interact through art, ideas and discourse.

About Black Mountain College

The story of Black Mountain College begins in 1933 and comprises a fascinating chapter in the history of education and the arts. Conceived by John A. Rice, a brilliant and mercurial scholar who left Rollins College in a storm of controversy, Black Mountain College was born out of a desire to create a new type of college based on John Dewey’s principles of progressive education. The events that precipitated the college’s founding occurred simultaneously with the rise of Adolf Hitler, the closing of the Bauhaus school in Germany, and the beginning of the persecution of artists and intellectuals in Europe. Some of these refugees found their way to Black Mountain, either as students or faculty. Meanwhile, the United States was mired in the Great Depression.

The founders of the college believed that the study and practice of art were indispensable aspects of a student’s general liberal arts education, and they hired Josef Albers to be the first art teacher. Speaking not a word of English, he and his wife Anni left the turmoil in Hitler’s Germany and crossed the Atlantic Ocean by boat to teach art at this small, rebellious college in the mountains of North Carolina.

Black Mountain College was fundamentally different from other colleges and universities of the time. It was owned and operated by the faculty and was committed to democratic governance and to the idea that the arts are central to the experience of learning. All members of the college community participated in its operation, including farm work, construction projects, and kitchen duty. Twenty minutes east of Asheville, the secluded environment fostered a strong sense of individuality and creative intensity.

Legendary even in its own time, Black Mountain College attracted and created maverick spirits, some of whom went on to become well-known and extremely influential individuals in the latter half of the 20th century. A partial list includes Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef and Anni Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Susan Weil, Vera B. Williams, Ben Shahn, Ruth Asawa, Franz Kline, Arthur Penn, Buckminster Fuller, M.C. Richards, Francine du Plessix Gray, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Dorothea Rockburne and many others who have made an impact on the world in a significant way. Even now, decades after its closing in 1957, the powerful influence of Black Mountain College continues to reverberate.

About the Artists and Speakers

Brooklyn Youth Chorus (co-commissioner, producer, performer, Black Mountain Songs), now celebrating its 25th anniversary, is a collective of young singers and vocal ensembles re-envisioning choral music performance through artistic innovation, collaboration, and their distinctively beautiful sound. With an incredibly versatile range and repertoire, Brooklyn Youth Chorus combines intensive voice training and music study with exceptional performance experiences. Founded in 1992, Brooklyn Youth Chorus’s after-school program encompasses over 500 students in multi-level training divisions and advanced performing ensembles. With an emphasis on commissioning, the Chorus’s repertoire includes more than 100 original works and world premieres.

Bryce Dessner (creator, co-curator, composer, Black Mountain Songs) is a Brooklyn-based composer, guitarist, and curator who is also a member of the Grammy Award-nominated band the National. Dessner’s recent commissions include pieces for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Audiovisual Institute of Poland, the Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet, and the new music ensemble eighth blackbird, among others. The first recordings of Dessner’s compositions, performed by Kronos Quartet, were released in 2013 by Anti on an album entitled Aheym. In 2014 Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Classics released St. Carolyn By the Sea; Suite from the Paul Thomas Anderson film There Will Be Blood, which features three of Dessner’s orchestral works performed by the Copenhagen Philharmonic and conducted by André de Ridder.

Richard Reed Parry (co-curator, composer, Black Mountain Songs) is the red-headed musical polymath at the heart of the inventive art rock band Arcade Fire, but his work and story reach far beyond. Born in Toronto and raised in a community of ex-pat British isles folk musicians, Parry studied electro-acoustics and contemporary dance at Concordia University. As well as contributing to Arcade Fire’s success over the past 10 years, he also released his debut album as a composer this year entitled Music for Heart and Breath on Deutsche Grammophon. Parry has also written commissioned works for Kronos Quartet, yMusic, and Bryce Dessner, and his chamber works also have been performed by the Calder Quartet and Who’s WhoWho’s Who Warhol Dervish. He has also collaborated and performed with artists like David Bowie, The National, the Unicorns, Neil Young, Mick Jagger, Sam Amidon, Nadia Sirota, Colin Stetson, Little Scream, La La La Human Steps, and Islands.

Maira Kalman (co-creator, designer,The Principles of Uncertainty) is the author and illustrator of 18 children’s books including Fireboat, Looking at Lincoln, and What Pete Ate, as well as five books for adults. Her online columns for the New York Times were compiled into two volumes, The Principles of Uncertainty and The Pursuit of Happiness. Her two most recent books about design, My Favorite Things and Ah-Ha to Zig Zag were recently released in conjunction with Maira Kalman: My Favorite Things – the exhibit she curated for the re-opening of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. Maira’s recent publications include Girls on Lawns with text by Daniel Handler, in conjunction with the photography department of the Museum of Modern Art, and Beloved Dog.

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, John Heginbotham (co-creator, choreographer,The Principles of Uncertainty) graduated from The Juilliard School in 1993, and was a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group from 1998 – 2012. In 2011 he founded Dance Heginbotham (DH). The ensemble has been presented and commissioned by Bard College, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Joyce Theater, The Kennedy Center, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, among others. In the spring of 2016, DH toured to Indonesia, Laos, and the Philippines DanceMotion USASM, a project of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), produced by BAM. A frequent collaborator with live music, John has worked with numerous composers and musicians including Alarm Will Sound, American Classical Orchestra, Brooklyn Rider, Fischerspooner, Tyondai Braxton, Colin Jacobsen, Gabriel Kahane, and Shara Worden.

Martha McDonald (curator, Active Archive exhibition) is an interdisciplinary artist whose performances and installations feature handcrafted costumes and objects that she activates through gestures of making and unmaking and singing to transmit narrative. McDonald’s practice often focuses on site-specific “interventions” in historic house museums, libraries and gardens which investigate the sites and their stories to explore how these public places connect with personal histories and emotional states.

McDonald’s work has been produced in Berlin at Brotfabrik; in Melbourne, Australia at Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts and Craft Victoria; in Sydney, Australia, at Elizabeth Bay House; in New York at P.S. 122, The Joyce SoHo, HERE Center for the Arts and Galapagos Arts Space; in Washington, DC, at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery; in San Francisco at Theatre of Yugen; in Chicago at Links Hall; in Baltimore at the Evergreen Museum & Library and 14K Cabaret; and in Philadelphia at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Painted Bride Art Center, The Prince Music Theater and the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. She has been selected for artist residencies at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia), The MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH), Evergreen Museum & Library at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) and The Rosenbach Museum & Library (Philadelphia, PA). She has received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Independence Foundation. She completed a Masters of Fine Art at Monash University through a Monash Research Graduate Scholarship.

Mel Chin (keynote speaker) was born in Houston, Texas, in 1951. Chin’s art, which is both analytical and poetic, evades easy classification. He is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas.

Chin also insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. He developed Revival Field (1989-ongoing), a project that has been a pioneer in the field of “green remediation,” the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil. From 1995-1998 he formed the collective the GALA Committee, which produced In the Name of the Place, a conceptual public art project conducted on American prime-time television. In KNOWMAD, Chin worked with software engineers to create a video game based on rug patterns of nomadic people facing cultural disappearance. His film 9-11/9-11, a hand-drawn, 24 minute, joint Chilean/U.S. Production, won the prestigious Pedro Sienna Award for Best Animation from Chile’s National Council for the Arts and Cultures, in 2007. Chin also promotes “works of art” that have the ultimate effect of benefiting science, as in Revival Field, and also in the recent Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an attempt to make New Orleans a lead-safe city. These projects are consistent with a conceptual philosophy that emphasizes the practice of art to include sculpting and bridging the natural and social ecology.

Chin’s work was documented in the popular PBS program “Art of the 21st Century.” He has received numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Art Matters, Creative Capital, and the Penny McCall, Pollock/Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Rockefeller and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundations, among others.

For more information, please contact Blake Zidell or Ron Gaskill at Blake Zidell & Associates by e-mail at (blake@blakezidell.com), (ron@blakezidell.com) or call 718/643-9052.

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