Macaulay Lerman was born in the spring in Southern California and raised in Connecticut. As a young adult, he traveled throughout the US and Canada hitchhiking, hopping freight trains, and driving his camper van. While Lerman rarely carried a camera during this time, he developed a practice of documentary storytelling through extensive journaling. To this day he remains fascinated by fringe communities and alternative ways of living, perceiving, and being in the world. While his process is largely ethnographic, in the sense that he immerses himself in the worlds he depicts, he is far more interested in emotional realities than hard lined physical truths. Above all else, he values dreams and memory. A photograph exists somewhere between the two and this is why he is drawn to the medium. In May of 2017, Lerman earned his BFA in Photography and Documentary Studies from Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont. Since then he has shot for a variety of organizations including the Slate Valley Museum and the Vermont Folklife Center. His work has been exhibited nationally in solo and group exhibitions. Lerman currently resides in Burlington Vermont where he is an active member of the Wishbone Artist Collective.
Of all the symptoms of youth, perhaps the greatest is the inability to see beyond the world that currently is. The intoxicating illusion of permanence that defines the early years of our lives is proven false by the transient nature of young adulthood and slowly we begin to see existence for what it is; an endless process of becoming.
For as long as I can remember I have not wanted to live in this world. When I was a child this feeling manifested itself in the form of endless hours spent reading The Lord of the Rings and gallivanting off on epic quests of my own in the woods behind my family’s home. When I was a teenager the feeling remained, and yet the expression of it shifted. I discovered anarchist rhetoric, befriended local squatters, and began traveling in slowly expanding circles away from New England via hitchhiking and freight train. I tattooed my face and hands with a sewing needle and India ink, drank wine from a bag, and slept out in the woods with others who had chosen the same path.
This is how I met Nate. I picked him up along with a mutual friend at an Occupy encampment in Lancaster PA in 2011, and together we circled the country in a $500 van I had purchased from an Alpaca farmer the week before. We busked for our money, ate out of grocery store dumpsters, and for a few years at least successfully evaded time.
I imagined we’d live this way forever. That our bodies would never betray us and that the excess of society would always be enough to scrape by. However, as we entered into our early twenties an increasing plague of heroin addiction and subsequent death spread rampantly throughout our community. Our days no longer existed in a weightless suspension, change was coming.
Nate took a job on a fishing boat in coastal Alaska, and I moved to Vermont to attend a small liberal arts college. In the Summer of 2016, Nate lost his pinky in an accident while out on a 3-month fishing contract. To avoid a lawsuit he was offered a large cash settlement in addition to his pay for the 3-month voyage. With nearly $100,000 in hand, Nate bought 5 acres of land in Fritz Creek AK and began building a small homestead. Through word of mouth, this story spread throughout the nomadic punk community and soon many others came to Fritz Creek with similar pursuits in mind.
If there is a common thread between travelers of this nature, it is the disbelief that you could ever truly belong in this world. That there is nowhere for you to go and so you must learn to live between things. This is simply not true. There is a place amidst the white spruce and Pacific yew where in the summer months the alpenglow suspends and it is always almost morning. There is a place past the spit up on Greer Road where the paved road ends and the fireweed takes root; thriving, becoming.
To view more of Macaulay Lerman’s work please visit his website.