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B. 1923
D. 2007

At the avant-garde arts enclave of Black Mountain College in western North Carolina, Elizabeth “Betty” Schmitt Jennerjahn was both student and teacher, specializing, respectively, in textiles and dance. Prior to arriving at the school in 1944, she attended Milwaukee State Teachers College, followed by studies at the University of Colorado. Her first impressions of Black Mountain were enthusiastic; she called the place a “utopia . . . a summer camp with college courses that one chose with no thought of requirements and no grades.” Jennerjahn’s four siblings also studied at Black Mountain College.

Betty Schmitt’s initial intention was to study stained glass and—like most students on the experimental campus—she registered for Josef Albers’ course in art fundamentals called “matières studies.” Using simple, available, and inexpensive objects like twigs, leaves, and rocks, the curriculum dealt primarily with textures, colors, and lines. She also probably enrolled in Anni Albers’ weaving workshop which was conducted with a similar approach to the creation of functional and fine art textiles alike. Anni Albers admired South American weavings and no doubt passed that appreciation along to her students. Betty left the school in 1945 to pursue her passion for dance in New York, where she took classes with Martha Graham, a leading figure in modern dance and choreography. In her later years, Jennerjahn pursued textile design and painting.

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