Martha King, 1961. [former Black Mountain College student in 1955]

Black Mountain College Museum (@bmcmuseum) on Instagram:

“”The summer I was there, Dan Rice and George Fick lived and painted in one of the prefabs down on the lower campus but the rest of the lower campus was closed, to save funds, I was told. The lower campus had those ample buildings that figure in so many of the photographs, the Adirondack-style lodges with porches, beamed ceilings, fieldstone fireplaces. I peered through the glass doors. We were asked to please stay out.⁠

My Black Mountain started further up the hill, just past the swampy upper edge of Lake Eden. There was a turnaround by the Studies Building, and a concrete pit, empty, for storing coal. There were large common rooms on the ground floor of Studies, three or four classrooms, and a few faculty apartments at the back end. The balance of the building was taken up by individual student studies, two floors-full of minimal cells, each with a door, a window, and a plank desk. ⁠


On the hill above the Studies Building were the scattered cottages where we all lived. They were winterized summer vacation houses of the same vintage as the big buildings on the lower campus, punctuated, here and there with modern constructions. Student-built experiments in simplicity. Plywood, cinderblock, corrugated metal, transparent plastic, unfinished plasterboard. The builders were gone and the materials they used were not new anymore. The buildings were damp and musty. Minimalism doesn’t do dirty very well. A dirty John Sloan isn’t the same order of offense as a Mondrian that needs a good cleaning.” ⁠

- Martha King, BMC student in 1955. “Three Months in 1955: A Memoir of Black Mountain College,” Black Mountain College: Sprouted Seed: An Anthology of Personal Accounts (University of Tennessee Press, 1990.) ⁠

Sprouted Seeds is now out of print (a copy is available in our library), but you can find this full memoir at - one of the all-time best depictions of the later years of the college and how it was experienced by a young woman.⁠

Image: Martha King, 1961. ⁠”