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Spencer Finch

East Meets West


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East Meets West by the American artist Spencer Finch is a site-specific work commissioned for Karl D. Umrath Hall. To create this work Finch traveled to the east and west coasts of the United States to observe the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He used a colorimeter—a device that measures the color and temperature of light that exists naturally at a specific place and time—to calculate the color of the light on the surface of the oceans. He also painted watercolor studies based on his personal observations of the color of the water and the shapes of the waves. The resulting two light boxes, individually titled Atlantic and Pacific, combine the empirical qualities of scientific study with the subjective qualities of landscape painting. The works emit a fluorescence that approximates the color of the ambient midday light at each ocean on the day of the artist’s visit, while the images covering the boxes derive from the shapes and forms of the watercolors Finch made onsite. The horizontal format recalls nineteenth-century landscape painting; Finch’s overall artistic approach is, in fact, informed by the legacy of Impressionism, a movement in which artists attempted to combine objective observation of the natural world with the subjective experience of the individual artist. Responding to the role of St. Louis as the historical gateway from east to west, as well as to the architecture of the building, Finch created the work to be strategically placed on the east and west walls of the building’s two central atriums, so that the viewer faces in the direction of the respective ocean while looking at each image. [Art on Campus brochure, 2017]

  • Artist Spencer Finch (American, b. 1962)
  • Title East Meets West
  • Date 2014
  • Medium Two light boxes with Fujitrans prints on Plexiglas
  • Dimensions exterior | 48 7/16 x 76 1/2 x 5 3/8 in. (each)
  • Credit line University purchase, Art on Campus fund, Karl D. Umrath Hall, 2014
  • Object number WU 2014.0002 a-b

4/9/2014 (Atlantic installed), 3/18/2014 (Pacific installed), 2/28/2014 (received at KAM)
Spencer Finch (Brooklyn, NY); Umrath Hall committee members (voting): Sabine Eckmann (chair), Alison Ferring, Marie Griffith, Ed Macias, Erin McGlothlin, Susan Rotroff, Nathan Stobaugh, Gary Wihl

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