IASP BMC group photo

In the spring of 2023, students and faculty from the Interdisciplinary Art and Social Practice program at UNCG embarked on a research trip to Asheville, North Carolina, to explore and learn about the history and influence of Black Mountain College (1930-50s). This trip was generously funded by the Victoria and Ron Milstein Fund for Interdisciplinary Art and Social Practice.

Black Mountain College was an experimental school that provided a democratic and communal structure for avant-garde art, music, and poetry. The roots of Social Practice can be traced back to the way this school operated and the radical interdisciplinary artists who came together during this time and created art.

This trip was coordinated and led by IASP program faculty: Dr. Nicole Scalissi, (Art History) Janet Allard (Theater) Caitlyn Schrader (Dance) Lee Walton (Art)

Upon arriving in Asheville, Dr. Nicole Scalissi delivered a lecture presentation (at the Airbnb!) on the historical context of Black Mountain College and its unique pedagogical ethos of egalitarian and experimental ideals. Followed by local tacos of course!

The first day, students and faculty took a walking tour of the iconic BMC campus at Lake Eden, led by Alice Sebrell, Program Director at BMC. The students and faculty tried their best to recreate the classic photo of the artists and faculty taken at Lake Eden!

The group then visited the Black Mountain College Museum+Arts Center to explore the exhibition and archives, followed by a conversation with Alice Sebrell.

Day two involved a visit to the Asheville Art Museum for a special tour with Kate Faulkner, Director of Learning + Engagement, and a private viewing of Sherrill Roland’s Solo Exhibition, Sugar, Water, Lemon Squeeze.

In the experimental spirit of Black Mountain College, students embarked on downtown Asheville to create short video works that included dance, poetry, and performance art. QR codes were created for each video performance and then posted throughout the city for future passersby to discover and experience the works in situ.

Annabelle Kizer (Art) said, “This trip was truly a wonderful and inspiring experience. You notice new things at every turn when you purposely move through the world with a social practice eye. Standing in the dining hall of Black Mountain College, I could feel the energy of the artists who lived there. There is something quite beautiful about standing where many influential and creative minds designed and laughed before you”

Aneesah Abdur-Razzaq (Dance) said, “I enjoyed my experience visiting BMC and the culture of Asheville, NC. One thing I especially took notice of while there was how easily accessible it is to be an artist. While roaming the streets of Asheville during our tours and leisure time, I couldn’t help but notice how everything we encountered was a work of art of some kind. Whether it was from having a custom poem written on the spot from a poet named Catalina Rose or simply speaking with local patrons to create a work that reflected both our interests as students and our interests in people, it was all so significantly accessible.