… “The artist thinks about what he himself is going to do, does it himself, and then reflects upon the thing that he himself has done.”
… Both Rice and Dewey valued the creative and emotional aspects of human development and believed that art — or the “art experience” — was essential for nurturing an individual’s capacity to participate in a democracy. The arts, according to Rice, are “least subject to direction from without and yet have within them a severe discipline of their own.”
[line break added] An art experience, as Dewey outlined in Art as Experience (1934), was about discovering and respecting the integrity of one’s materials. Black Mountain College literature echoed this sentiment: “Through some kind of art experience, which is not necessarily the same as self-expression, the student can come to the realization of order in the world; and, by being sensitized to movement, form, sound, and the other media of the arts, gets a firmer control of himself and his environment than is possible through purely intellectual effort.”
[line break added] The theory is that the process of making art hones not only observation but also judgment and action, so that students who acquire intelligence through art both notice what is happening around them and develop individual responses to it. In Rice’s words, “The artist thinks about what he himself is going to do, does it himself, and then reflects upon the thing that he himself has done.” By encouraging both self-reflection and the translation of thought into action, pedagogy at Black Mountain began with art to end with democracy.