The legacy of John Dewey’s Art as experience: from Black Mountain College to “happenings”


Art education


This is a companion piece to an article in a previous issue of the journal that offered an overview of the contrasts between John Dewey’s naturalistic aesthetics, primarily as presented in his classic work Art as experience, and the more formalist aesthetics of art collector, philanthropist and educator Albert Barnes. This contrast was then used to explore and explain their disparate compatibilities and relationships with the pioneering work of the iconic 20th century American artists Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock. The current article does the same with respect to the avant-garde art and artistic legacy of the members of the creative community who lived and worked at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. As with the previous article, this examination ultimately underscores both the genuine catholicity of Dewey’s aesthetics and its deep roots in the endless meaning-making possibilities of everyday experience. The article then concludes with a brief discussion of the educational implications of these findings for our thinking about Dewey in the context of art and aesthetic education.