Artist Spencer Finch, whose Moonlight window installation is currently on display at Winfield House, the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence London, was the fourth speaker in the American Artist Lecture Series, a partnership between Art in Embassies (AIE), Tate Modern and US Embassy London. This partnership welcomes audiences of young artists and scholars in a lecture hall format. For his lecture on May 29, 2014, Finch decided that he wanted to change the format. He invited curator and critic Sacha Craddock to join him at the Starr Auditorium for a conversation about inspiration in contemporary art, which resulted in a very lively and interesting discussion about the inspiration in contemporary art, with many students in attendance. Curator of International Art at Tate Modern Mark Godfrey made the introductions.
Over the last three decades, Spencer Finch has been working across various media, including painting, drawing and sculpture although he is best known for ethereal light installations that evoke his experience of natural phenomena. His investigations into the nature of light, color, memory and perception transpire in watercolors, drawings, video and photographs. Finch distills his observations of the world into glowing abstract color but also diverts them through cultural and historical filters: in homage to Emily Dickinson’s 1862 poem “Before I got my eye put out”, he measured the sunlight in her Massachusetts garden, then recreated the effect of a passing cloud by means of fluorescent tubes covered in gel and suspended theatre filters. Finch was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1962, and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He has a Bachelor’s of Arts in comparative literature from Hamilton College, Clinton, New York (1985) and a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design (1989). Solo exhibitions include Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana (2013), the Art Institute of Chicago (2011), Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (2007) and Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2003). He participated in the Folkestone Triennial, UK (2011) and the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009). More recently Finch finalized permanent installations at the Washington University in Saint Louis and on the facade of the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. In the United Kingdom, he is working on a commission for London’s Paddington Station and had a solo exhibition at Turner Contemporary in Margate, England, where he showed new sculptures that register the light of that seaside resort town. For the atrium of the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, the artist created a colorful, reflective glass installation that references the library’s collection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts called Books of Hours. The artist was selected to to create the only work of art commissioned for the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City, for which he created a mosaic of individual watercolors painted in 2,973 different shades of blue and attached to a monumental concrete wall, titled Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning, the piece commemorates each of the victims of that American tragedy.