March 1, 2018

We believe deeply in a new form of expression, also called ARTIVISM, which combines a diversity of art together with social justice and activism. Today artivism is known as one of the leading edge creative art movements of our time.

With a focus on social change and the important lessons of history, along with a developed understanding of our polarized global cultures, TRACE Arts Center is now working to bring back to life what the famous experimental art college, Black Mountain College, envisioned for the world from the early 1930s into the late 1950s. 

Never before attempted art projects are important building blocks at TRACE, as our professors and teachers teach using the TRACE Learning Method. It is here students are given a greater sense of the individual self, self worth and self awareness.

Using a fluid and open approach to creativity TRACE is also grateful to the respected heritage of Black Mountain College and the 22 original students who became part of the early culture at BMC.

Art Instructor Josef Albers teaches color theory at Black Mountain College. Image: Archives State of North Carolina, Western Regional Archives.

As we move from 2018 to 2019 we look back, and look up, to the artists and art instructors at Black Mountain College who moved 20th Century arts studies out of ‘book-only’ learning and into the world of action-based experiential learning.

We are also thankful for the individual and collective works of Ani and Josef Albers, Robert Motherwell, Karen Karnes, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollack, Denise Levertov, Eva Hesse, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Ruth Asawa, Merce Cunningham, Robert Creeley, John Cage, Charles Olson, and so many others, as these artists became the gatekeepers of innovation in their time.

Today’s ‘Emergist’ art is also an important focus for TRACE as we look to the future and follow the heritage left to us by Black Mountain College.

Josef Albers Color charts


“We have a vision and the vision is here,” outlines TRACE founder and director Lys Anzia.

Seeing the world in a new and vital way is considered required study by all students attending classes of instruction at TRACE.

“Art has a new utility—it can give a new seeing to the world,” said writer and art reviewer Grace Alexandra Young quoting the talented Black Mountain College teacher Josef Albers in 1934.



Educational learning methods at TRACE Center for Integrative Arts & Activism follow the same innovative approaches that were an important aspect of dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham’s approach to creative expression through dance. In 1948 Cunningham and his life partner, artist and musician John Cage, first visited Black Mountain College, the educational model that is today an important part of the focus at TRACE Arts Center. The concept “Take a Chance” was something Cunningham revered greatly during his lifetime as he worked tirelessly to depict innovation in movement arts through dance.

Video trailer/release: Walker Art Center, Feb 2017