Conversations: Ruth Erickson, Curator @ ICA Boston, Part Two

Ruth Asawa, Dancers, c. 1948, oil on blotting paper 12 x 19 inches. Weverka Family Collection. © Estate of Ruth Asawa. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

In the first part of my interview with curator Ruth Erickson, she talked about how the Leap Before You Look exhibition was designed to engage museum visitors. Now moving deeper in the dialog, Erickson talks more specifically about the different departments at Black Mountain College and how that influenced the exhibition, saying that “a lot of people remark on [how]we mixed media and styles, just as it was a very heterogeneous place at Black Mountain, there is a real mix of styles.”

Within this framework, Erickson says “there’s an area of pedagogy that we look at experimental architecture—we have some of the Bucky [Buckminster] Fuller models that he had of geodesic domes” that now reside at Stanford University.

The exhibition took 4 years of research and development, during which time Erickson says she and the curatorial team looked at thousands of art and articles.

Speaking to architects who had a hand in shaping the Black Mountain College (BMC) experience, Erickson starts off by talking about Lawrence Kocher, who in addition to his relationship to BMC, was a long-time editor for Architectural Record.

“One of the most important architects was this guy named Lawrence Kocher, who had been in Pennsylvania—an important player who brought down the Breuer/Gropius plans for the new campus,” says Erickson, which in the end were deemed too costly to build. “Kocher taught really interesting classes” at BMC, she says, including a class “for low- income housing.” Adding that, Kocher “is in some ways the most important architect at Black Mountain.”

This span of the interview concludes with Erickson taking at length about artist Ruth Asawa.

Leap Before You Look is on display at UCLA’s Hammer Museum for another week, and travels North later this year, opening on September 17th at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.

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