FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 300 Pointing out a weakness to Richard Dawkins in his new book OUTGROWING GOD (Comparing evidence for Christianity to a flying tea pot is crazy) Featured artists today are Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg

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Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins

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XXXX November 20, 2019

November 20, 2019

Richard Dawkins c/o Richard Dawkins Foundation, 
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Mr. Dawkins,

I have enjoyed reading about a dozen of your books and some of the most intriguing were The God DelusionAn Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist, and Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science.

I enjoyed your latest book Outgrowing God which is one of my favorite books that you have written. 

However, there are some some weak parts of the book. For instance, on page 13 you write: 

The philosopher Bertrand Russell made the point with a vivd word picture. If I were to tell you, he said, thst there is a china teapot in orbit around the sun, you could not disprove my claim.But failure to disprove something is not a good reason to believe it.

Let me respond with this fine article below by Nate Sala:

Why Russell’s Teapot Fails

By Nate Sala – June 3, 2015327236

Oftentimes, when discussing the existence of God with atheists (or agnostics), the notions of supporting evidence and burden of proof are raised. This is important as good evidence provides a foundation for a reasonable inference on this issue, as well as the idea that those who make claims must support them with some kind of evidence. For example, if God exists then there should be some evidence to support claims of His existence. And, as Christian case-makers continue to show, there are a number of evidences that support the existence of God.

Unfortunately, some atheists believe that there can be no evidence for God whatsoever; and it is from this mistaken presupposition that a particular strategy involving a teapot floating in space has emerged. So the argument goes: we cannot conclusively prove that there is not a teapot orbiting the sun somewhere in outer space; but, given the lack of evidence for such a teapot, its likelihood is so low that the reasonable conclusion should be that it does not exist. Likewise, we cannot conclusively prove that God does not exist; but, given the lack of evidence for God, the reasonable conclusion should be that He does not exist.

This particular argument originated with philosopher Bertrand Russell in a letter he wrote in 1958:

“I do not think the existence of the Christian God any more probable than the existence of the Gods of Olympus or Valhalla. To take another illustration: nobody can prove that there is not between the Earth and Mars a china teapot revolving in an elliptical orbit, but nobody thinks this sufficiently likely to be taken into account in practice. I think the Christian God just as unlikely.”[1]

A number of decades later Richard Dawkins commented on Russell’s idea in The God Delusion:

“Russell’s point is that the burden of proof rests with the believers, not the non-believers. Mine is the related point that the odds in favour of the teapot (spaghetti monster / Esmerelda and Keith / unicorn etc.) are not equal to the odds against.”[2]

There are a couple of problematic elements in Russell’s and Dawkins’ comments. First, they both assume that there is no evidence for God. At least, it seems that Russell’s presupposition is that there is no evidence, thus allowing for his analogy; and Dawkins appears to accept Russell’s analogy wholesale. Second, Dawkins claims (via Russell) that, since there is no evidence for God, theists are the only ones that bear the burden of proof. This reminds me of a similar strategy amongst some atheists that attempts the same result, i.e. placing the burden of proof squarely on the theist’s shoulders. To read more on that, see “Why Atheism Is Not a Lack of Belief.”

Here is the problem with Russell’s presupposition. When an atheist states that there is no evidence for a teapot floating in outer space, he likely means there is no empirical evidence for it. In other words, to say that there is no evidence is to say that, as far as we know, no one has seen or touched a teapot in space. But to suggest that evidence for God is the same thing as empirical evidence for a teapot is to misunderstand the evidence for God typically appealed to by theists. As Dr. Brian Garvey writes, “God is invoked as an explanation for… why the universe exists at all, why it is intelligible, why it is governed by laws, why it is governed by the laws it is rather than some other laws, and doubtless many more things.”[3] Therefore, the evidences for God are the universe, its intelligibility, its physical laws, etc.

Russell’s analogy fails in large part because it likens two different sets of evidences, i.e. evidences for an object and evidences that are effects of an explanation. Russell’s teapot is not an explanation for anything. It simply exists as a rhetorical device. God, on the other hand, is an explanation for a number of things. With regard to the universe itself, consider the Kalam Cosmological Argument:[4]

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Or a form of the Teleological Argumentappealing to fine-tuning:[5]

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance or design.
  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
  3. Therefore, it is due to design.

In both arguments a causal agent, namely God, is inferred as being the explanation for the universe, as well as its features. This does not mean that God is a physical object floating in space, like a teacup. It just means that God is an inference to the best explanation. Considering God as an explanation for the universe (as well as the universe as evidence for God), Dawkins’ comment on the burden of proof should be reevaluated.

Whether or not Russell’s floating teacup actually exists is irrelevant to the universe: as I stated earlier, his teacup is not an explanation for anything. So one’s worldview of the universe is not devoid of explanation if Russell’s teacup does not exist. However, if God does not exist there must be another explanation for the universe and its particular features. To illustrate consider Garvey’s chart below:[6]

So in contradistinction to the theist who proposes God as the explanation for “the most general laws,” i.e. the properties of the universe, the atheist proposes “something other than God.” So atheism is not a passive enterprise by any means. It is a proposition that reality is explained by (other than). Thus, both theists and atheists are looking at the same evidences (the universe and its features) and drawing two different conclusions. This means that Dawkins’ assertion, that the theist is the only one who bears the burden of proof, is flatly false. Both parties have their own burdens to bear.

While Russell’s teapot is probably not very popular anymore (considering its circular nature), it, nevertheless, still floats around the internet (pun intended) as useful fodder for those who don’t know any better. However, its failure is largely due to the disanalogy between evidence for a teapot and evidence for God. So the next time you cross paths with Russell’s floating teapot, have an apple, and then an orange.

[1] Bertrand Russell, “Is There a God?” in The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell Volume 11, ed. John G. Slater (New York, NY: Routledge, 1997): 547-548.

[2] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York, NY: Bantam Press, 2006), 76.

[3] Brian Garvey, “Absence of Evidence, Evidence of Absence, and the Atheist’s Teapot” Ars Disputandi 10 (2010), 18.

[4] J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 468.

[5] Ibid, 484.

[6] Brian Garvey, “Absence of Evidence, Evidence of Absence, and the Atheist’s Teapot” Ars Disputandi 10 (2010), 18.

Nate SalaSpeaker, Educator, President of A Clear Lens, Inc. and host of A Clear Lens Podcast. B.Sc

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Dr. Dawkins, you have a 150 year advantage over your hero Charles Darwin and the archaeologist’s spade has continued to dig. Take a look at this piece of evidence from the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? by Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop:

TRUTH AND HISTORY (chapter 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?)

In the previous chapter we saw that the Bible gives us the explanation for the existence of the universe and its form and for the mannishness of man. Or, to reverse this, we came to see that the universe and its form and the mannishness of man are a testimony to the truth of the Bible. In this chapter we will consider a third testimony: the Bible’s openness to verification by historical study.

Christianity involves history. To say only that is already to have said something remarkable, because it separates the Judeo-Christian world-view from almost all other religious thought. It is rooted in history.

The Bible tells us how God communicated with man in history. For example, God revealed Himself to Abraham at a point in time and at a particular geographical place. He did likewise with Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel and so on. The implications of this are extremely important to us. Because the truth God communicated in the Bible is so tied up with the flow of human events, it is possible by historical study to confirm some of the historical details.

It is remarkable that this possibility exists. Compare the information we have from other continents of that period. We know comparatively little about what happened in Africa or South America or China or Russia or even Europe. We see beautiful remains of temples and burial places, cult figures, utensils, and so forth, but there is not much actual “history” that can be reconstructed, at least not much when compared to that which is possible in the Middle East.

When we look at the material which has been discovered from the Nile to the Euphrates that derives from the 2500-year span before Christ, we are in a completely different situation from that in regard to South America or Asia. The kings of Egypt and Assyria built thousands of monuments commemorating their victories and recounting their different exploits. Whole libraries have been discovered from places like Nuzu and Mari and most recently at Elba, which give hundreds of thousands of texts relating to the historical details of their time. It is within this geographical area that the Bible is set. So it is possible to find material which bears upon what the Bible tells us.

The Bible purports to give us information on history. Is the history accurate? The more we understand about the Middle East between 2500 B.C. and A.D. 100, the more confident we can be that the information in the Bible is reliable, even when it speaks about the simple things of time and place.

A common assumption among liberal scholars is that because the Gospels are theologically motivated writings–which they are–they cannot also be historically accurate. In other words, because Luke, say (when he wrote the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts), was convinced of the deity of Christ, this influenced his work to the point where it ceased to be reliable as a historical account. The assumption that a writing cannot be both historical and theological is false.

The experience of the famous classical archaeologist Sir William Ramsay illustrates this well. When he began his pioneer work of exploration in Asia Minor, he accepted the view then current among the Tubingen scholars of his day that the Book of Acts was written long after the events in Paul’s life and was therefore historically inaccurate. However, his travels and discoveries increasingly forced upon his mind a totally different picture, and he became convinced that Acts was minutely accurate in many details which could be checked.

What is even more interesting is the way “liberal” modern scholars today deal with Ramsay’s discoveries and others like them. In the NEW TESTAMENT : THE HISTORY OF THE INVESTIGATION OF ITS PROBLEMS, the German scholar Werner G. Kummel made no reference at all to Ramsay. This provoked a protest from British and American scholars, whereupon in a subsequent edition Kummel responded. His response was revealing. He made it clear that it was his deliberate intention to leave Ramsay out of his work, since “Ramsay’s apologetic analysis of archaeology [in other words, relating it to the New Testament in a positive way] signified no methodologically essential advance for New Testament research.” This is a quite amazing assertion. Statements like these reveal the philosophic assumptions involved in much liberal scholarship.

A modern classical scholar, A.N.Sherwin-White, says about the Book of Acts: “For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming…Any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must not appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken this for granted.”

When we consider the pages of the New Testament, therefore, we must remember what it is we are looking at. The New Testament writers themselves make abundantly clear that they are giving an account of objectively true events.

(Under footnote #98)

Acts is a fairly full account of Paul’s journeys, starting in Pisidian Antioch and ending in Rome itself. The record is quite evidently that of an eyewitness of the events, in part at least. Throughout, however, it is the report of a meticulous historian. The narrative in the Book of Acts takes us back behind the missionary journeys to Paul’s famous conversion on the Damascus Road, and back further through the Day of Pentecost to the time when Jesus finally left His disciples and ascended to be with the Father.

But we must understand that the story begins earlier still, for Acts is quite explicitly the second part of a continuous narrative by the same author, Luke, which reaches back to the birth of Jesus.

Luke 2:1-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

2 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all [a]the inhabited earth. [b]This was the first census taken while[c]Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a [d]manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the opening sentences of his Gospel, Luke states his reason for writing:

Luke 1:1-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things[a]accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those whofrom the beginning [b]were eyewitnesses and [c]servants of the [d]word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having [e]investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellentTheophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been [f]taught.

In Luke and Acts, therefore, we have something which purports to be an adequate history, something which Theophilus (or anyone) can rely on as its pages are read. This is not the language of “myths and fables,” and archaeological discoveries serve only to confirm this.

For example, it is now known that Luke’s references to the titles of officials encountered along the way are uniformly accurate. This was no mean achievement in those days, for they varied from place to place and from time to time in the same place. They were proconsuls in Corinth and Cyprus, asiarchs at Ephesus, politarches at Thessalonica, and protos or “first man” in Malta. Back in Palestine, Luke was careful to give Herod Antipas the correct title of tetrarch of Galilee. And so one. The details are precise.

The mention of Pontius Pilate as Roman governor of Judea has been confirmed recently by an inscription discovered at Caesarea, which was the Roman capital of that part of the Roman Empire. Although Pilate’s existence has been well known for the past 2000 years by those who have read the Bible, now his governorship has been clearly attested outside the Bible.

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.comhttp://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, Box 23416, LittleRock, AR 72221, United States

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Francis and Edith Schaeffer at their home in Switzerland with some visiting friends

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Schaeffer with his wife Edith in Switzerland.


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Richard Dawkins and John Lennox

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DawkinsWard

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Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Harris 

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Canary Islands 2014: Harold Kroto and Richard Dawkins

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

The Basis of Human Dignity by Francis Schaeffer

Richard Dawkins, founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Credit: Don Arnold Getty Images

Francis Schaeffer in 1984

Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer in 1982

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Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Episode 1

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Garik Israelian, Stephen Hawking, Alexey Leonov, Brian May, Richard Dawkins and Harry Kroto

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Featured artists today are Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg

Both Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg who are featured in this post below were good friends of the composer John Cage who was featured in my first post in this series. Check out the article, “When John Cage met Robert Rauschenberg.”

Legend of Black Mountain

Uploaded on Apr 20, 2008

Black Mountain College was a phenomenal circumstance. The fact that so many artists of that level in their respective fields could organize and develop such an institution is unparalleled. Who would’ve thought that a small mountain town of western North Carolina would be their home, albeit for a short while.

SUSAN WEIL and ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG at Black Mountain College

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Susan Weil and Rauschenberg on their wedding day with members of their wedding party, Outer Island, Connecticut, June 1950

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Black Mountain College Work Camp Publication 1941

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
Alt. CreatorD.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections
Subject KeywordBlack Mountain College; Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center ; colleges ; experimental community ;  Progressive education ; Progressives ; Bauhaus ; German immigration ; immigrants ; Marcel Breuer ; Walter Gropius ; John Andrew Rice ; Josef Albers ; Anni Albers ; Hazel Larsen Archer ; Buckminster Fuller ; Ruth Asawa ; Charles Olson ; Robert Rauschenberg ; Merce Cunningham ; John Cage ; Robert Creeley ; Jonathan Williams ; Franz Kline ; photography ; Appalachia ;  education ; National Historical Register ; architecture ; farms ; farming ; craft ; art ; textiles ; weaving ; ceramics ;  music ;  social services ; social work ; schools ; sociology ;
Subject LCSHBlack Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.)
Arts — Study and teaching (Higher) — North Carolina — Black Mountain
Albers, Josef
Albers, Anni
Archer, Hazel Larsen
Asawa, Ruth
Cage, John
Creeley, Robert
Cunningham, Merce
Fuller, Buckminster
Kline, Franz
Olson, Charles
Rauschenberg, RobertRice, John Andrew
Williams, Jonathan
Education — Appalachian Region Rural schools — Appalachian Region,  Southern
Schools — Appalachian Region

The Longest Ride Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Britt Robertson Movie HD

Black Mountain College: A Thumbnail Sketch

Published on Aug 14, 2014

A 13 minute documentary about the legendary arts school in the mountains of North Carolina

It has been my practice on this blog to cover some of the top artists of the past and today and that is why I am starting in this current series on Black Mountain College (1933-1955). Here are some links to some to some of the past posts I have done on other artists: Marina AbramovicIda Applebroog,Matthew Barney,  Allora & Calzadilla,   Christo and Jeanne-Claude Olafur EliassonTracey EminJan Fabre, Makoto Fujimura, Hamish Fulton, Ellen GallaugherRyan Gander, John Giorno,  Cai Guo-QiangArturo HerreraOliver HerringDavid Hockney, David HookerRoni HornPeter HowsonRobert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Martin KarplusMargaret KeaneMike KelleyJeff KoonsSally MannKerry James MarshallTrey McCarley,   Paul McCarthyJosiah McElhenyBarry McGeeTony OurslerWilliam Pope L.Gerhard RichterJames RosenquistSusan RothenbergGeorges Rouault, Richard SerraShahzia SikanderHiroshi SugimotoRichard TuttleLuc TuymansBanks ViolettFred WilsonKrzysztof WodiczkoAndrea Zittel,

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG SYNOPSIS

Considered by many to be one of the most influential American artists due to his radical blending of materials and methods, Robert Rauschenberg was a crucial figure in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to later modern movements. One of the key Neo-Dada movement artists, his experimental approach expanded the traditional boundaries of art, opening up avenues of exploration for future artists. Although Rauschenberg was the enfant terrible of the art world in the 1950s, he was deeply respected and admired by his predecessors. Despite this admiration, he disagreed with many of their convictions and literally erased their precedent to move forward into new aesthetic territory that reiterated the earlier Dada inquiry into the definition of art.

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG KEY IDEAS

Engaged in questioning the definition of a work of art and the role of the artist, Rauschenberg shifted from a conceptual outlook where the authentic mark of the brushstroke described the artist’s inner world towards a reflection on the contemporary world, where an interaction with popular media and mass-produced goods reflected a unique artistic vision. Rauschenberg merged the realms of kitsch and fine art, employing both traditional media and found objects within his “combines” by inserting appropriated photographs and urban detritus amidst standard wall paintings. Rauschenberg believed that painting related to “both art and life. Neither can be made.” Following from this belief, he created artworks that move between these realms in constant dialogue with the viewers and the surrounding world, as well as with art history. Preferring to leave the interpretation of the works to his viewers, Rauschenberg allowed chance to determine the placement and combination of the different found images and objects in his artwork such that there were no predetermined arrangements or meanings embedded within the works.

INTO THE GAP: ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG

October 22, 2014 by Don Bacigalupi
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Categories: Artists, Artworks.

Today is the birthday of Robert Rauschenberg, an artist who played a pivotal role in the development of American art after WWII.

This blog post, written by Museum President Don Bacigalupi, is excerpted from Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection catalog, Celebrating the American Spirit: Masterworks from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. 

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) Untitled 1963 Oil, graphite and silkscreen ink on canvas

The art world of the late 1940s and early 1950s had been dominated by the grand gestures and larger-than-life personas of the abstract expressionists. Artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning created images in which their bold, expressive marks were understood to be records of their inner lives—painting as revelation. Younger artists like Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns attacked the cult of personality promulgated by the New York School. Juxtaposing the highly lauded gestural brushstroke with modes of representation drawn from mass culture, they challenged viewers to assess which manner of image making more effectively conveyed meaning. Rauschenberg and Johns are credited with both reviving an interest in dada and surrealism and with paving the way for the development of pop art in the 1960s.

Rauschenberg spent the 1950s experimenting with novel ways to narrow the gap between art and life, bringing commonplace images and materials into his work through methods including collage, assemblage, and transfer drawing. In 1962, he began to silkscreen photographic images into his compositions. The following year he produced Untitled, a painting dominated by an anonymous photograph of a contemporary urban street scene. Unlike Rauschenberg’s earlier assemblages and “combines,” in which the artist assembled multiple small images and objects into larger, fragmentary wholes, here a single black-and-white candid shot occupies the entire canvas. In contrast to Rauschenberg’s earlier picture-making techniques, silkscreen allowed the artist to render any given image in any given scale.

In Untitled, the enlarged, silkscreened snapshot serves as the ground onto which Rauschenberg applied additional layers of signification, including discrete passages of dripping paint, scumbled washes, stenciled letters of various sizes, and some apparent rubbings or erasures. Photographic and hand-drawn images become nearly indistinguishable. A “one way” street sign that is part of the photograph points at and is balanced by an upside-down cruciform shape drawn in graphite across the painted surface. A rectangular Coca-Cola sign in the upper right of the photograph is mirrored at left by an array of applied uppercase letters that suggest words (“Strange” or “X-change” or even “Sex Change”).

Confronted with the large, sign-filled photograph and hints of readable language, the viewer cannot help but search for narrative meaning. Yet the sheer number and diversity of marks and signs in the picture frustrate this enterprise, leading the viewer down a series of interpretive dead ends. A restless and prolific image maker, Rauschenberg created pleasingly composed and visually enticing works that rarely cohere into a traditional meaning or story. Ultimately, Rauschenberg succeeded in focusing his viewers’ attention on the complex interplay between art and life, opening up myriad possibilities for future generations of artists.

THE FLIGHT OF PIGEONS FROM THE PALACE

Mostly stories, plus other odds and ends

Robert Rauschenberg & Jasper Johns – A relationship in three photographs

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Robert Rauschenberg & Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg shortly before their breakup.

“Most critics agree that Johns and Rauschenberg’s finest work grew out of the period between 1954 and 1961, a time of intense emotional involvement during which they searched together for an alternative to Abstract Expressionist picturemaking. Rauschenberg once remarked of this moment “We gave each other permission…”

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Flag, Encaustic, oil and collage on fabric mounted on plywood,1954-55 by Jasper Johns:

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This is perhaps one of the most famous photographs taken at the Archie Bray Foundation. From left to right are Soetsu Yanagi, Bernard Leach, Rudy Autio, Peter Voulkos, and Shoji Hamada.

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Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, Soetsu Yanagi, and Marguerite Wildenhain at Black Mountain College

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