Black Mountain School

An experiment in education & community

Chelsea and daughter at the river

One spring evening after laying my daughter down for bed,
I walked down our hallway facing a large window…
And that’s when I saw her.
Several hundred feet in front of our home there she was:
dark, black, low to the ground, then still moving.

Still, then moving.
She was majestic and almost incomprehensible to the normal eye.
Adam was unbelieving at first, then stood in awe.
After a moment, she was gone.


If you believe education is only what you received, with the will of a prisoner, in the brightest and most creative hours of your life, learning things that you’ve never needed and you’ve quickly forgotten. If this is the same treatment you will inexorably reserve to your children, in the fear of being too rare as a black mountain lion…

And if you are so sure that your country, through its courses, certificates and other papers, is the only one able to determine which are the requirements to teach how appreciating things like culture or beauty, that years of cloistered environment, folded on hundreds of books, are sufficient to make a good teacher and gaining the necessary experience to educate a young inquiring mind, maybe you’ll never see a black mountain lion.

BMS Barn

Housed on the original rural and relatively isolated location of Black Mountain College — a new kind of college in the United States, going between 1933 and 1962, in which the study of art was seen to be central to a liberal arts education — the Black Mountain School presents an alternative to the current state of public and private higher education increasingly marked by extreme tuition costs, corporatized profit-driven learning, and a “one size fits all” curriculum.

Black Mountain Group

Through courses as A New Image of Thought, Thinking Televisual, A Living Poetics, GIF Animation, Underground Sounds and many others, Black Mountain School and its group — artists, writers, and educators from across the United States — aim to be both reactive that what is broken in the higher-education system, and to be proactive in creating a new world along the lines of what they would like to experience. It’s a collaborative learning environment where educators create the content of study, students determine their level of engagement, and tuition is affordable for all.

“We are not seeking to replicate Black Mountain College, but instead to learn from their triumphs and failures to create a Contemporary Avant-Garde in a time when education is lacking all that is honest, free, and true”.

Walking + Work by Adam Void

My husband, Adam Void, and I live on the ridge-side in the ancient Appalachian Mountains.
A couple of days after my encounter with the “black panther”, I realized she carried with her a vision to create a new Black Mountain College.

In mid-2012, Chelsea Ragan & Adam Void moved to Black Mountain, NC to persue the visual arts in the birthplace of the American Avant Garde. Today this dream is near and open to everyone.

BMS – Summer 2016


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