Spencer Finch, ‘Palimpsest’, 2012, Maharam
Spencer Finch, ‘Palimpsest’, 2012, Maharam

A continuation of Spencer Finch's interest in the secluded life of Emily Dickinson, Palimpsest documents an upstairs hallway in the Evergreens, the adjoining Amherst, Massachusetts, home of Dickinson's brother, Austin, preserved as a time capsule since 1856. A palimpsest, the evidence of layers beneath, is a stratified visual record of previous writing or drawing now obscured. In Finch's treatment, the saturated rectangles of wallpaper, protected from sunlight by the paintings that once hung there, seem to transform from mere evidence of the passage of time into wormholes back to Dickinson.

About Spencer Finch

Spencer Finch uses a diverse range of mediums to investigate the ways in which history, memory, and sensory perception conflate and mutually influence. Working in painting, photography, and installation, Finch is best known for producing large-scale sculptural installations that filter or transform natural light or create synthetic light effects. Finch attempts to recreate his impressions of natural phenomena and landscapes, leaving his materials visible so that the constructs underlying his optical illusions are laid bare—as in Sunset (Over the Atlantic), (2004), a curving space installed with glass, tiles, and tubes of fluorescent light. “There is always a paradox inherent in vision, an impossible desire to see yourself seeing,” Finch has said. “A lot of my work probes this tension; to want to see, but not being able to.” Finch observes, documents, and studies with scientific precision (often using a colorimeter) the color and light effects of specific locations, much in the manner of Impressionist Claude Monet, whom he considers a major influence on his work.

American, b. 1962, New Haven, Connecticut, based in Brooklyn, New York