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Richard Smith: An Afternoon With Henry David Thoreau

  • Cleveland Print Room (map)

Smith will visit Cleveland on Saturday January 20 for “An Afternoon with Henry David Thoreau,” which will take audience members back to the 1850s with a reading of Thoreau's essay, Autumnal Tints as the Print Room exhibits environmental-themed Anthropocene: The Age of Humans. 

Richard Smith wasn’t planning on dedicating his life to Thoreau when he moved to Concord, Massachusetts, in 1999. Admittedly, he had been to Concord on vacation the previous year for only a day when he thought he should move from Akron, Ohio, to where the philosopher, essayist and naturalist had lived, but he hadn’t planned on a busy career performing as Thoreau around the country.

“When I began to get into the Transcendentalists, I started with (Ralph Waldo) Emerson, of course, and then from Emerson went to Thoreau, and just quickly became pretty obsessed with him,” says Smith.

When Smith impersonates Thoreau, he uses 19th-century speech patterns based on the philosopher’s writings. He wears authentic clothing, and becomes more formal in his interactions to represent the time period. Once, a reporter who interviewed him for a magazine article wrote that she’d “started to wonder if he might be the closest I’d get to a ghost.”

Thoreau made clear 150 years ago in Autumnal Tints, as he lay dying of tuberculosis in early 1862, looking and seeing are very different phenomena. "Objects are concealed from our view," he wrote, " not so much because they are out of the course of our visual ray as because we do not bring our minds and eyes to bear on them; for there is no power to see in the eye itself, any more than in any other jelly."

Join us for this event. Refreshments will be served.

Earlier Event: January 19
Later Event: February 3
Darkroom Orientation