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Visionary New England

Visionary New England

Current price: $35.00
Publication Date: April 28th, 2020
The MIT Press
Special Order - Subject to Availability


Connecting New England's historical spiritualist and utopian traditions—from Brook Farm to Harvard's LSD research—to work by contemporary artists with regional ties.

New England has a rich history of spiritual, mystical, and utopian strivers. Their visionary schemes range from nineteenth-century Transcendentalist experiments in communal living at Brook Farm and Fruitlands to the Harvard Project's LSD research, led by Timothy Leary, in the mid-twentieth century. The search for alternative ways of life often overlapped with the search for the Divine or expanded modes of consciousness and creativity. Visionary New England, which accompanies an exhibition at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, connects these traditions to the work of ten contemporary artists with New England ties. Generously illustrated, with ninety color images, the book interweaves analysis and imagery of New England's visionary traditions with reproductions of paintings, photographs, video, and installations by the artists.

Essays examine New England's spiritualist and utopian practices; Transcendentalist writers' conception of Nature as “Other”; and the social significance of spiritualism. Texts by exhibiting artists Anna Craycroft and Candice Lin address the pedagogy of Amos Bronson Alcott, cofounder of Fruitlands, and the effects of opium trade in New England.

Visionary New England bridges past and present, offering a new lens through which to understand contemporary art.

Essays by

Sarah J. Montross, Richard Hardack, Lisa Crossman, Anna Craycroft


Gayleen Aiken, Caleb Charland, Anna Craycroft, Angela Dufresne, Sam Durant, Josephine Halvorson, Paul Laffoley, Candice Lin, Michael Madore, Kim Weston

About the Author

Sarah J. Montross is Curator at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts. She has curated or cocurated such notable exhibitions as Screens: Virtual Material, Cool Medium: Art, Television, and Psychedelia, and Expanding Abstraction: New England Women Painters 1950 to Now. She is the editor of Past Futures: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas (MIT Press).nies.

Praise for Visionary New England

"A provocative, multidimensional, and in moments, trippy experience of the region’s relationship with seeing beyond."
Boston Globe