Transcendental Concord documents the spirit of Transcendentalism, the literary, mystical, & philosophical movement that arose from Concord, Massachusetts in the mid-nineteenth century. While the circle of Transcendentalists in New England was wide, at its center was a core group that lived in Concord. 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 verdant paths of Walden Woods to discuss their writings, daily experiences, inspirations, & spiritual beliefs, as well as their observations of the natural world. Through this daily communion with Nature, neighbors, & their own mind, these five Concordians created bodies of work that have inspired generations of artists and radicals to, “live deliberately,” including me.
Through this project, which involved equal parts photographing, walking, & reading, I seek to pay homage to the Transcendental movement and to resurrect their ideals by making images that witness their philosophy. In the course of a year and in every season, I explored and photographed the sites where the Transcendentalists lived and wrote, as well as the landscape that nourished them. Throughout these pilgrimages I photographed simply, wandering on foot & with a film camera; I photographed deliberately, seeking out specific places in Concord that are referenced in Transcendentalist writings;
I photographed with reverence to the natural world, observing variations large and small in the environment; And I photographed experimentally, incorporating long exposures, camera movement & embracing mediations of light that I often could not explain. The resulting images provide a glimpse into a world that is both past & present. There is still beauty, wonder, & inspiration to be found on a walk to Walden Pond & in every leaf encountered along the way.
Lisa McCarty is a photographer, filmmaker, and curator based in Durham North Carolina.
Lisa has participated in over 50 exhibitions at venues such as The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Chicago Photography Center, Houston Center for Photography, Griffin Museum of Photography, Asheville Art Museum, and the American University Museum. Lisa’s photographs have also been shown internationally in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Argentina. Additionally her moving images have been screened at the New York Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, Cairo Video Festival in Egypt, and Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival in Scotland.
Lisa holds an MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts from Duke University and is currently Curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library as well as an instructor at the Center for Documentary Studies. You can see more of her work here.