Black Mountain College has always been  a touchstone for the ireland : iceland project and now Pilgrimage Project. This film FULLY AWAKE gives us a glimpse of that extraordinary period in time.

Hidden in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Black Mountain College (1933 – 1957) was an influential experiment in education that inspired and shaped twentieth century American art.

Fully Awake: Black Mountain College is a documentary film that explores the college’s progressive pedagogy and radical approach to arts education. Highly democratic and faculty-owned, the school promoted practical responsibilities and the creative arts as equally important components to intellectual development.

During WWII, Black Mountain College was a haven for refugee European artists such as Josef and Anni Albers who arrived from the Bauhaus in Germany. In the socially conservative 1940s and 50s, the college also became a refuge for the American avant-garde, (Franz Kline, John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, Robert Creeley, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, and M.C. Richards). Fully Awake explores how the confluence of this diverse community came together to create a unique educational model.

Through narration, archive photography, and interviews with students, teachers, historians, and current artists, Fully Awake investigates the development of this very special place – the site of Buckminster Fuller’s first geodesic dome, John Cage’s first ‘happening’, and the Black Mountain Review – and how its collaborative curriculum inspired innovations that would change the very definition of “art.” Through probing the legacy of Black Mountain College, Fully Awake points to a progressive pedagogical model that can continue to inspire students today.

You can see footage from a Black Mountain College John Cage/Merce Cunningham/Rauschenberg collaboration at 3:45 here