“Back to Zero:” The Artistic and Pedagogical Philosophy of Anni Albers
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This thesis investigates Anni Albers’s development from a student at the Bauhaus to a teacher at Black Mountain College, focusing on her unique pedagogical practice that was informed by what she called a “back to zero” approach. My study analyzes the parallels between Albers’s art and teaching by looking at her experience as a student, teacher and artist. Albers’s “back to zero” philosophy frames the narrative of each chapter. In the first chapter, I examine her time as a student at the Bauhaus, exploring precisely which aspects of her Bauhaus education she continued to reference in her own teaching career. The second chapter focuses on Albers’s role as a teacher at Black Mountain College, especially how she viewed self-referential aesthetics (where the surface appearance references internal structure and production methods), the process of haptic creation by which objects signaled their intrinsic connection to the essence of weaving, and the influence of ancient textiles, especially ancient Andean weavings. The third chapter explores the teaching environment that Albers created for her students, ultimately asserting this to be an expression of the same “back to zero” philosophy that she embodied in her artistic practice.