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M.C. Richards: The Fire Within

"M.C. Richards: The Fire Within" produced by Richard Kane and potter/filmmaker Melody Lewis-Kane is an adventure into discovering the source of our own creativity told through the life of Mary Caroline Richards (1916-1999).

In addition to her most famous underground classic Centering: In Pottery, Poetry and the Person, and Toward Wholeness: Rudolf Steiner Education in America, M.C. was a pivotal figure at the famously experimental Black Mountain College serving as head of faculty (1949-51) with those who later became avant garde luminaries in the New York art scene — Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine and Willem deKooning, Jacob Lawrence, Arthur Penn, Robert Motherwell, Merce Cunningham and John Cage among others.

This 60- minute documentary is distributed by Kane-Lewis Productions.

In the film we witness M.C. engaging in contemplative questioning regarding the nature of art, imagination, wholeness, community, and our place in the cosmos. She inspires us to live creatively, to believe in ourselves, to experience the sensuality of existence. This is a film not just about M.C. It’s about all of our quests to become authentic creators of art and community. The film premiered in New York and Philadelphia and completed a 24 U.S. city tour in 2006 screening at eight international film festivals. It continues to receive requests for screenings throughout the world.

As one of the most influential art educators in America, the ideas of M.C. Richards and her seminal non-fiction work Centering were used to inspire the 2005 National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference theme – Centering: Community, Clay and Culture. The film’s producer, Melody Lewis-Kane, presented at the conference with three of M.C. Richards’ closest associates: Paulus Berensohn, Julia Connor, and George Kokis. Four additional chapters are now on the DVD – one hour of interviews with M.C.’s closest associates: Paulus Berensohn, Karen Karnes, George Kokis and Robert Turner.

Also active in Greenwich House Pottery, M.C. was a central player in the New York avant-garde scene in the early 50s when she lived in Stony Point, New York with composers John Cage and David Tudor, potters Karen Karnes and David Weinrib, architect Paul Williams and children's author Vera Williams.

Her influence goes well beyond the visual art world. As the first English translator of THE THEATER AND ITS DOUBLE, by French actor/playwright/activist Antonin Artaud, M.C. is credited by director Arthur Penn and avant garde Living Theater co-founder Judith Malina, as being instrumental in changing the course of theater in America for all time. The translation, to this day, is considered the authority.

In this thought-provoking documentary, you hear from a cadre of her associates and followers as they carry on her important work of inspiring people to live creatively. The hour documentary features interviews with many renowned artists, poets, thinkers, and theologians including: Marjory Bankson, Paulus Berensohn, Julia Connor, Merce Cunningham, Adriana Diaz, Martin Duberman, Howard Evans, Matthew Fox, Gertrude Hughes, Karen Karnes, George Kokis, Judith Malina, Amy Evans McClure, Arthur Penn, and Robert Turner.

Sponsored by: Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center and Chester Springs Studio.

With support from: the Humanities-and-the-Arts initiative, administered by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and funded principally by the Pennsylvania Arts Council; the North Carolina Humanities Council; the New York Council for the Humanities; the Rudolf Steiner Foundation; the Rudolf Steiner Institute; the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, Inc. and many individuals.
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