Skip to content


cover of Spencer Finch: The Brain is deeper than the sea


This book is published in conjunction with the exhibition "The Brain is deeper than the sea" at James Cohan in New York. 

Spencer Finch combines a poetic sensibility and a scientific approach to gathering data to create installations, sculptures and works on paper that filter perception through the lens of nature, history, literature, and lived experience. Finch uses precise instruments such as anemometers and light meters as well as his own observation to recreate the transcendence of quiet moments—the play of light on his studio wall at night or a breeze through the window—and celebrate the sublime in the quotidien. Finch’s scientific methodology emphasizes rather than discredits the importance of subjectivity; the natural world may be measured, but our individual experiences of it will always diverge.

The title for this show is taken from “The Brain—is wider than the Sky—,” a poem written by Emily Dickinson circa 1892. Finch has long been inspired by Dickinson’s poetry, and admires what he calls her “super sensitivity” to the world around us. Over the summer, the artist re-read all 1,789 poems that Dickinson wrote in her lifetime. Like Dickinson, Finch is interested in making the abstract tangible and defining experience without confining it, while simultaneously acknowledging the limits of observation and the impossibility of objective memory. Many of the drawings in this show explore the ephemeral and fundamentally ineffable qualities of light and color in the same New England landscape that shaped Dickinson’s elliptical language.

Poems by Emily Dickinson
Publisher: Trying to Press (2018)

Back To Top