Born 1966, Boston, MA
Lives and works in Somerville, MA

Year created: 
A Mile from Any Neighbor from Walden, Christopher Frost

Christopher Frost. A Mile from Any Neighbor from Walden. 1999. Bronze. 12" x 9 ½" x 6 ½"

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12" x 9 ½" x 6 ½"

Lent by the Artist

Christopher Frost is primarily interested in issues of time, memory, and community. His works often employ familiar objects strongly evocative of history and place. The title of this piece echoes the opening sentence of transcendentalist author Henry David Thoreau's 1854 Walden, the classic paean to individualism and self-reliance: "When I wrote the following pages…I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself…" We encounter Frost's top hat as a serendipitous find, life-sized, with the immediate appeal of a nineteenth-century trompe l'oeil painting. It transports us back to an era when the hat was an indispensable item of grooming and etiquette, and an essential marker of identity. Thoreau's words, reduced to their mantra-like essence—the acronym AMFAN—have been inscribed on the hat, becoming as personal as a monogram. This sculpture exists as an intimate memorial to the forebears who once strolled the forests around us.

The history of this hat's specific location gives it a special poignancy. When Thoreau was searching for a place to which he could retreat and experience the "simple life," he initially selected Flint's Pond, here on the grounds of deCordova, clearly visible from the site of Frost's sculpture. The farmer who owned the land denied him this pleasure, and Thoreau was left with nearby Walden Pond, much closer to the clatter and whirr of civilization.