written by
Scott Power

Kate Averett Anderson of Black Mountain College: Birthplace of the American Avant-Garde [Podcast]

Podcast 1 min read

Despite its short lifespan, Black Mountain College (BMC) left a lasting legacy as an influential pioneering arts institution that challenged traditional academic structures and fostered a unique community of creative thinkers. Founded in 1933 just 20 minutes outside of Asheville, NC, the college emphasized holistic learning and the study of art as central tenets of its educational philosophy. While BMC closed in 1957 due to funding issues, many of its faculty and students were or would become influential in the arts, including Josef and Anni Albers, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, John Cage, Ray Johnson, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly.

In today’s special crossover episode from our friends at ArtsvilleUSA, we welcome Kate Averett Anderson, a writer, curator, staff historian, project coordinator, and board member at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC). The museum works to preserve the legacy of educational and artistic innovation of BMC through exhibitions, conservation, educational events, and public programs. “It's not about having a gallery space where you walk in and you go, ‘Here is the history of Black Mountain College from beginning to end,” says Kate. “You can come in and have hands-on experiences with different exhibitions that tell a lot of different stories.”

In this episode, you’ll discover the fascinating connections between BMC and the iconic Bauhaus movement, relive the vibrant atmosphere of the college's legendary parties, and uncover the pivotal role of the BMCM+AC in keeping BMC's spirit alive. From exploring historical parallels to celebrating the creative freedom that BMC championed, this episode offers valuable insight into the birthplace of the American avant-garde. “[Black Mountain College] was a haven for a lot of people,” says Kate. “It was a place where a lot of people had the freedom and ability to explore different elements of their identity.”

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center: Website | Instagram | Facebook

All photos published with permission of the artist(s).

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