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. Created as an experiment of “education in a democracy,” the central idea was that the creative arts and practical responsibilities are equal in importance to the development of the intellect. The emphasis was that learning and living are intimately connected.
FULLY AWAKE (2007)is the only feature-length documentary film exploring the college’s progressive pedagogy and radical approach to arts education. Highly democratic and faculty-owned, the school promoted educational of the whole person: head, heart, and hand. Practical responsibilities and the creative arts were viewed 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.