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Spencer Finch
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
New Haven, Conn.
Best known for dealing with the elusive concepts of memory and perception through light installations, American artist Spencer Finch works in a wide variety of mediums, including watercolor, aquatint, photography, glass, electronics, video and fluorescent lights. Finch recreates the perception of light at a particular time and place. After measuring with a colorimeter the light that exist naturally in a specific place and time, Finch re-constructs the luminosity of the location through artificial means. For example, Moonlight (Luna County, New Mexico, July 13, 2003), replicates the exact light of the full moon that shone over the desert of Luna County, New Mexico on the evening of July 13, 2003. Other times Finch shows the color of the atmosphere during a past event, such as his “Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning,” (2014) that hangs in the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City. He painted 2,983 individual sheets of Fabriano Italian paper a different shade of blue to remember each of the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and the 1993 bombing at the same office complex. Finch was born in 1962 in New Haven, Conn., and grew up in that city’s suburbs; his father was a chemist and his mother taught in elementary school. After graduating from The Hotchkiss School, a private high school in Lakeville, Conn., Finch entered Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., from which he received a B.A. degree in comparative literature in 1985. He spent his junior year at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan, where he studied ceramics with a potter. After returning to Hamilton, he took a few art courses. Rather than pursuing his intended teaching career, a few years after graduation from Hamilton Finch enrolled in the ceramics department of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. He later transferred to the sculpture program, and received his M.F.A in sculpture from RISD in 1989. He then moved to New York City, where he found a job editing textbooks at McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, Inc., while he pursued art. Finch exhibited in group shows in the Sol Koffler Gallery in Providence in 1988 and 1989 and at The Brooklyn Arts Council’s Downtown Cultural Center in 1990 and 1991.The following year he had his first solo exhibition at the Tomoko Liguori Gallery in New York City and his work was included in a group show at the Postmasters Gallery in New York City. Postmasters gave him a solo show in 1994 and showed his work through 2009. Finch’s first solo museum exhibition was at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, in 1997. Commissioned works have been an important part of his career, beginning in 1988. Several of his early commissions were joint projects with Paul Ramirez Jonas (b. 1965), also an installation artist and sculptor. Works by Finch were chosen to be in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2004 Biennial, a success that allowed him to quit his McGraw-Hill job, and the 2009 Venice Biennale. He has had solo museum exhibitions at the Morgan Library and Museum, New York City and the Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK in 2014, Indianapolis Museum of Art (2013), RISD (2012) The Art Institute of Chicago (2011) and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2010). A notable retrospective exhibition of his work was held by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, Mass., in 2007. Finch is also a printmaker who worked with the Paulson Bott Press in Berkeley in 2015, where he produced ten aquatints, including the large (43” x 60”) “Back to Kansas,” based on the colors in the movie “”The Wizard of Oz.” His most recent major commission is “A Cloud Index,” a 120-meter long glass canopy that will cover a hall in a new Crossrail station being built at Paddington Station in London, an installation featuring clouds printed on glass panels that will appear to change with changing light. Finch is represented by galleries in Berlin, Chicago, London, Milan, New York City and Stockholm. He lives and works in Brooklyn. (TNB 5/2017)