In photographs and installations, Lydia McCarthy fractures reality, building alternate worlds using in-camera manipulations. Art making becomes a devotional act that directly engages her complicated relationship with spirituality. Through participation in spiritual subcultures and these devotional acts, she creates personal structures of belief. Approaching the work as both participant and observer, McCarthy investigates connections between religious experience, neurological processes, optical aberrations and psychedelic culture. This work is preoccupied with the possibility of another reality and how, through photographic processes and installations, one is able to create and authenticate these alternate worlds. The resulting photographs hover in a space between documentation, metaphor and material investigation. Layering exposures onto 4×5 film, McCarthy removes her subjects from their original context and exploits the idea that photography may be able to capture a world we cannot access in our waking reality. Through these devotional acts and altered states of vision, the viewer embarks on a spiritual vision quest and confronts a constant, sometimes desperate, search for greater meaning and access to the unknown.
McCarthy is a Brooklyn-based artist. Her work has been exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at Essex Flowers, 106 Green and Frontispiece Hudson in New York; ACRE Projects in Chicago; and NAU Gallery in Stockholm. She has been included in group exhibitions at the Charlottenburg Kunsthall in Denmark, the Transformer Station in Cleveland and the Scandinavia House in New York. Her forthcoming publication with Silent Face Projects, External Unity, will be launched at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 in Fall 2017. Lydia’s work has been reviewed and published in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Dossier and the Huffington Post. She received a yearlong American- Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship and has held residencies at the Banff Centre and the Vermont Studio Center, among others. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography in the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.
This Artist House residency is sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History