by Julia Shuster, M.A.
The SIGA campus is located on the beautiful 1200 acres of the Blue Ridge Assembly property. This land, overflowing with beauty and history, established in 1912, was once home to the legendary Black Mountain College (BMC).
Founded in 1933, the school was based off of John Dewey’s principles of progressive education and became a vessel of mid-20th century avant-garde art, music, and poetry.
A short list of attendees includes Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef and Anni Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Susan Weil, Vera B. Williams, Ben Shahn, Ruth Asawa, Franz Kline, Arthur Penn, Buckminster Fuller, M.C. Richards, Francine du Plessix Gray, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley and Dorothea Rockburne. Albert Einstein even sat on the board of the forward thinking institution.
Black Mountain College aimed to educate the “whole person.” The educational structure of the school was designed to have students and faculty learn everywhere, everyday, in classrooms both outdoors and indoors, in the dorms, on hiking trails, and in the dining hall. The goal was through personal experimentation, spiritual and intellectual growth.
As SIGA is preparing our classrooms, once the very classrooms occupied by the BMC, we can not help but to think that we are lucky enough to breathe the same air that many of the BMC attendees used to inspire their works and learning. Though long closed, the legend and impact of the BMC has stood the test of time. The ripples of the BMC are significant today, in literature, art, architecture and poetry, as well as in many higher education institutions such as UC Santa Cruz, Evergreen State College and neighboring Warren Wilson College.
Anni Albers and student
Photo property of Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
SIGA looks forward to starting where the BMC left off, in educating a forward thinking, modern group of students who will be a force of positive change. Just like the roots of our namesake, “SIGA,” wich in Spanish is the imperative (or command form) of the verb “seguir,” meaning “to follow, to continue, to persist, and to pursue,” SIGA students will contribute to create the education they wish to receive, shaping world they wish to see, impacting the school for future generations, while never forgetting the roots from which they grow.
Multiple contributors will be posting on our blog to keep you posted on the development of SIGA!