Students and Faculty “Live Deliberately” with “Walden”-Inspired Exhibition

By Christopher Sarachilli | December 2, 2015

The Galleries at Arcadia are pleased to present “Live Deliberately: Views from Mount Greylock,” an exhibition on view in the Judith Taylor Gallery, on the ground floor of the Landman Library, through Dec. 13, 2015.

The exhibition contains a collection of journals, sketches, and digital video footage that explore themes such as simplicity, solitude, community, and our relationship with the natural world. It was created by Arcadia students and faculty during a weeklong series of camping trips to Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts.  The trips were part of “Live Deliberately: A Walden Experience,” a course taught by Chad Crisp, co-led by Alan Powell, and inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and his experiment to reduce life to the basic necessities and “learn what it had to teach.”  

At his death in 1862, Thoreau’s journal contained over two million words. For Thoreau, journal-keeping served as a way to capture experiences and develop, extend, and clarify thought. The form of journaling practiced by Thoreau, and emulated by the students participating in this course, contained the writing of observations and reflections meant to be shared, rather than kept private like a diary. This was a common practice during the mid-nineteenth century: Thoreau and his Concord contemporaries often exchanged notebooks as an intimate, essential form of interpersonal communication.

Taking in the sights and sounds of the mountain forest, students and faculty wrote in “public” journals to share their individual experiences in nature. These moments of reflection, spurred by student-chosen excerpts from Walden, reveal insights born not only from leisure time spent hiking trails, sharing meals, and musing around the campfire, but from the daily demands of collecting firewood, cooking, washing dishes, and pumping water as well.

The installation, complete with picnic table, is intended to mirror the wilderness campsite on Mount Greylock. Many of the student’s individual journals will be displayed, as well as video footage—presented as an additional form of journal-keeping—of students and faculty reading their journals aloud. To extend the act of journaling to the viewer, blank notebooks and pens will be available to all who wish to reflect in the gallery and share with fellow visitors.  

On Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., Judith Taylor Gallery will host live journal readings by students featured in the exhibition. The reading will be followed by a reception. Both events are free and open to the public.