Hazel Archer first experienced BMC in the summer of 1944 when she took classes and observed (through her camera lens) a constellation of creatives who gathered on campus that summer. One of them was photographer Barbara Morgan who taught the importance of light and movement. Archer soaked it all in and returned the following year as a graduate student. But it wasn’t until 1949 that BMC hired its first full-time photography professor and it was Hazel herself!
Hazel’s photographs of classes, students, artists, and general day-to-day give the best portrait of what the BMC experience was really like.
Suffering from polio as a child, Hazel had limited mobility. This in no way limited her ability to SEE which is what she emphasized to her students. Looking. Seeing what is in front of you. And capturing it with the camera.
“Pure observation puts thinking on hold, creating a stillness, fully alert… We become receptive, able to receive, able to respond, it is through this exchange that we have a firsthand experience, and we are changed by it….”
― H.L. Archer
Links for Further Exploration
- Black Mountain College Artist Focus: Hazel Archer
- Film footage from BMC taken by Archer
- Fotografmagazine article on Hazel Archer
- Article: New Light on Hazel Larsen Archer
- Find out more about Barbara Morgan (1900-1992) here and here; Morgan lectured at BMC on the role of “light in photography” (Hazel was in her class)
Invitation to Creativity
As people of the 2020s, we always have a camera in our hands: on our phones! Since our phones are so handy, we often document daily things: meals, pets, some piece of info we want to remember for later.
But today, take your camera phone and think of it merely as a camera, a lens through which to see light and movement.
Go for a wander outside or inside and document what you observe (up high or closeup).
When you pay attention to light, mundane objects and actions can become something very different.
“A new experience” as Hazel would say.
Please consider sharing your “new experiencese” (images) on the blog!