Saturday, March 5, 2016

Mentor: M. C. Richards (Part II)

M. C. Richards also planted the seed that led me to live in Black Mountain, NC from 2007 to present. 

As you may already know, after I got that BFA in ceramics, I stayed in school to get an M.Ed. and Ed.S. in counseling...and found that some of the ideas being promoted for counselors still echoed those that were spoken of in "Centering."  M.C. had taught at Black Mountain College, which closed its doors back in the 50's, but not before impacting the arts and education. 

Black Mountain College was the college where performing and visual artists and John Cage engaged in a "Happening" in 1950, well before it happened again in 1968 when I was briefly an art student in The Hartford Art School in Connecticut.  (I also was the receptionist there, thinking myself less talented and more inclined to be earning an income). 

From 1933 to 1941, Black Mountain College was located at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly. Photo: Creative Commons
It's interesting that today I can see this building's red roof through the wintertime trees from my current apartment across the valley.
48 YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly.jpg

... Harriet Sohmers Zwerling, "Studies Building, Black Mountain College
Remaining building from Black Mountain College second campus on Lake Eden from 1941 to 1957, is now part of Camp Rockmont, a summer camp for boys.
Black Mountain College was a short-lived laboratory for innovative teaching and art whose faculty and students included Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, David Tudor, Robert Rauschenberg and Charles Olson. They had workshops where everyone shared making pinch pots, exploring words in creativity and "brain storming."  Buckminster Fuller, (grand-nephew of Margaret Fuller, another genius) tried out his first geodesic dome there, and returned to make a more successful one than the original one of venetian blind slats.

For more information on M.C. Richards at Black Mountain College, look at her Wikepedia page:

M.C. Richards also is the subject of a biographical movie "The Fire Within" taken at her home in PA where she gave workshops, painted, and lived in an intentional community Camphill Village, an agricultural community in Kimberton, Pa. where she had lived since 1984. (The Black Mountain Library owns a copy of this film available to be checked out.)

The Fire Within is a portrait of a remarkable woman whose greatest artistic ability was perhaps to find the artist in others (despite her own impressive output as a writer, painter and potter). Most of the film centers on Richards' last years, including footage of her as she taught, wrote and worked with many special-needs adults at a Camphill Village in Pennsylvania; Richards touched the creative spark in them while working on her own art at the same time. The film offers us a striking picture of a woman who was as down-to-earth and forthright as they come, but who was likewise a dreamy visionary. She was a contradiction, and a fascinating one.  (movie review by Ken Hanke | 04/28/2004, Mountain Xpress)

Cover art for film
M. C.'s pottery and painting (like her prose and poetry) is loose, organic, speaks of the creativity rather than the polish, and is definitely inspired.  She taught me the value of process rather than product...in everything.  That was fundamental in counseling as well.  I may have tried writing poetry also, but am willing to appreciate that written by others.



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