Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Conversations: Ruth Erickson, Curator @ ICA Boston, Part One

More than any other school in the 20th century, it is Black Mountain College (BMC) that reached the height and set the standard for the apex of art and innovative education in the United States.  And presently touring the nation is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition and presentation of the school’s work products and sweeping global legacy.

Josef Albers, Leaf Study IX, c. 1940, leaves on paper, 28 x 24 ¾ inches. (c) The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/ Artists Rights Society New York. Photo: Tim Nighswander/Imaging 4 Art.

The show is entitled Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957.  It is the curatorial brainchild of the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.

A former curator at the ICA, Helen Molesworth, is the organizer of the show and says “Leap Before You Look examines the college’s critical role in shaping many major movements, and ideas in postwar art and education, including assemblage, contemporary dance and music, the New American Poetry, and the American studio craft movement—influences that can still be seen and felt today.”

BMC was founded by John A. Rice, who prior taught at Rollins College in Florida.   BMC was a parallel to and an inheritor of many principles and players of Germany’s Bauhaus school, which closed in 1933.  The same year BMC was opened.

BMC also incorporated the progressive pedagogy reformation of John Dewey, who was philosopher and psychologist, and one of early to mid-20th century’s most renowned public intellectuals.  Speaking to this, Molesworth says “Black Mountain College is an important historical precedent for thinking about relationships between art, pedagogy, democracy, and globalism.”

The exhibition includes 261 objects by almost 100 different artists, and yesterday I had a chance to speak with ICA Associate Curator, Ruth Erickson.  The first segment of our talk follows below, in which Erickson explains the layout and structure of the exhibition, currently on display at UCLA’s Hammer Museum:

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