Spencer Finch – Achieving Lightplay with Glass

When people think of artists, they commonly think of photographers, painters and sculptors. Artist Spencer Finch works in a wide range of mediums; however, he is particularly well known for his work with light art.

Goldray has been fortune enough to equip Finch with the glass needed for three of his light artwork pieces, “There is Another Sky” a glass canopy at the Amazon Vulcan Block 44 in Seattle, WA; “The Western Mystery” displayed at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Structure Park and “Cloud Interval” an installation in the lobby of 1775 Tysons Boulevard near Washington, DC. These stunning pieces of artwork feature colored interlayers between glass and use natural light to create a multitude of colors and cast patterns onto the surrounding environment.

Architectural glass is not typically considered to be a medium for artists to use, however; as artist Spencer Finch is keenly aware of, the wide variety of glass applications can create an interactive display with nature that other mediums cannot. Below, are some insights from his studio on these beautiful pieces of art.

“There is Another Sky”

This piece is titled, “There is Another Sky” and it refers to a sonnet by Emily Dickinson, which speaks of a place where the sky, sun, forests and leaves behave differently than the physical world we see everyday. The intent of this artwork was to replicate the feeling of walking beneath a forest canopy. Finch is interested in taking a natural phenomenon and recontextualizing it in a public space, to remind passersby of their place in the natural rhythms of the day. These vibrant patterns and colors shift the light within the architecture to create a space for reflection and call attention to the places we inhabit.

There is Another Sky by Spencer Finch
“There is Another Sky” at the Amazon Headquarters in Seattle, WA

Cloud Interval”

The source photograph for the artwork was taken from the top of the building in which it was installed. It’s a panoramic view of the sky over Tysons’ corner and represents the pattern of clouds and sun across the skyscape from East to South to West. The intent behind to the piece was take the view from the top of the building and transport it into the artwork on the ground floor of the building, linking the sky and the ground. The palette of five colors is organized to show the changing density of the clouds and open sky. The densest areas will be overlaps of blue and violet. For example, an area of clear sky will be shown by clear glass, while an area of the sun on the edge of a cloud will be shown by a thin yellow stripe. When the sun shines through the window, colors project onto the floor and walls of the lobby to re-create the shifts of tone that occur when the sun passes behind the clouds and peeks out again.

Cloud Interval by Spencer Finch“Cloud Interval” at 1775 Tysons Boulevard in Tysons, VA.

“The Western Mystery”

This installation straddles the line between abstraction and representation, shirking composition in real time as 90 square panes of glass in three different sizes and 16 different colors gently rotate in space. The cloud-like formation of the suspended panes of glass create a moving abstraction of a sunset, based on an actual sunset photographed from Seattle over Puget Sound. Unlike a photograph, the evocation of a sunset in the installation is not fixed. Everyone will experience it differently depending on the light at the time of their visit. During sunrise and sunset, the constellation of colored glass will double the natural event.

Western Mystery by Spencer Finch
“The Western Mystery” in Seattle’s Art Museum, WA.

These three projects clearly demonstrate how artist Spencer Finch has dedicated his practice to the study of light, colour and the ways in which we perceive them. We highly recommend viewing these glass artworks in person if you can, to allow you to fully appreciate the subtleties of the interplay of light and color.