Transcendental Concord

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On the eve of the Civil War, in the face of spreading industrialization, a new social and philosophical movement known as Transcendentalism developed in America. Initially centered in and around Concord, Massachusetts, the adherents of Transcendentalism pioneered models of communal living, environmental thinking, education reform, and secular spirituality which still reverberate today. Artist Lisa McCarty’s Transcendental Concord connects the movement’s past with its present by combining photographic documentation and excerpts from texts by Transcendentalists.

In the course of a year, through every season, artist Lisa McCarty photographed the sites where Transcendentalists lived and wrote in Concord. McCarty’s reverence for the natural world, parallel to that of the Transcendentalists, is evident in her photographs as they point to large and small variations in environment, season, and light. Taking a cue from the Transcendentalists’ patient contemplation of beauty, McCarty uses long exposures and camera movement in order to capture variations in space and time. Transcendental Concord pays homage to Transcendentalism not only in capturing a shared landscape, but in McCarty’s technique: her keen observation of natural phenomena and openness to experimentation and chance.

While the circle of Transcendentalists in New England was wide, at its center was a core group that lived in Concord, Massachusetts. Bronson Alcott and daughter Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau lived within a few miles of each other for nearly twenty years, regularly meeting in each other’s homes and on the paths of Walden Woods to discuss their writings and beliefs. Transcendentalists heralded the new and nonconformist, and encouraged all people to find, in the words of Emerson, “an original relation to the universe.” Transcendentalists particularly disagreed with the treatment of Native Americans and the legality and practice of slavery.

“The series pays homage to the Transcendentalists not only by capturing the environments that inspired their way of life, but in my technique: using the camera to frame changes in environment, paired with an openness to photographic experimentation,” says McCarty.

The interdisciplinary nature of this exhibition offers numerous points of entry for audience development and ancillary programming. Venues can explore the many humanistic, spiritual, ecological, and intellectual ideas tied to McCarty’s photographs and the Transcendentalist movement. From book clubs and poetry readings, to chamber music performances, to plein air painting classes, wilderness photography hikes, and other outdoor experiences, Transcendental Concord opens many doors to engaging audiences.

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Tour Schedule

Transcendental Concord is touring July 2021 through June 2026. The dates below reflect five-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact MoreArt@maaa.org or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.

Exhibition Details

Forty-nine framed photographs by Lisa McCarty

  • Content

    Fee Includes
    Press Kit
    Registrar’s Packet
    Programming Guide
    Text Panels
    Narrative Labels
    Full Insurance
    Installation Instructions
    Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Curated By

  • Organized By

    ExhibitsUSA, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Kansas City, MO

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee

    $4,800

  • In-Region Rental Fee

    $3,360

  • Duration

    five-week display

  • Shipping

    Van Line

  • Running Feet

    160 (minimum)

  • Square Feet

    -

  • Security

    Moderate B

  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    3 crates estimated/ TBD weight

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.