‘Impermanence’ at Finch Lane Gallery Reimagines the Experience of an Observer


Capture from the virtual tour of Rachel Hancey’s “Impermanence.” (Courtesy Salt Lake City Arts Council)

By Tervela Georgieva, Arts Writer


Picture a typical gallery — a fixed, nearly sterile space filled with static objects. You move from one artwork to the next like clockwork. You might stand in front of a piece and stare for a long time, looking at it head-on, arms crossed and wondering what it all means.

Rachel Hancey’s “Impermanence,” featured at Finch Lane Gallery in Salt Lake City from June 24 to Aug. 6, was anything but static. The exhibition forced its viewers to abandon a single, fixed spot from which to look at the artwork, ultimately challenging the idea that there is only one viewpoint by which to experience a piece.

Movement and Attention

Entering the gallery, I noticed “Liminal Space (1-27).” From a distance, it was simply a nine-by-three collage of screenprints, each appearing as a different gradient of color. I walked closer, I crouched and I turned my head until something new was born in my vision — a landscape, maybe trees or mountains.

But, as I stood up a little, the landscape changed. Parts that were light got darker, and the image became its opposite. Standing in front of “Liminal Space,” my eyes almost touching the frame, I saw nearly imperceptible white lines, short and numerous, atop these gradients of color, like a secret waiting to be found.

Immediately baffled, I finally looked to the artwork’s title, having skipped it over. The medium reads, “Screenprint, reflective microspheres, white and colored pencil on Yupo paper (Hancey).” Then everything clicks — the reflective landscapes are revealed by light, the tiny white marks you can only see from the closest distance. These pieces of art are playgrounds, and there are details you can only see if you take part.

Uncertainty and Limitlessness 

The piece that made the greatest impression on me was “Variations of Empty I, II, III, IV,” composed of four screenprints. From a distance, each one of them appears to be a white, blank sheet of paper, but as you get closer and contort your body at different angles and as light reflects off the print in a specific way, the outline of images emerges.

Unlike the other pieces, this one doesn’t use color. The prints are seemingly empty until they’re not. “Variations of Empty” challenged my initial perception by forcing its audience to lean in. A light bulb went off in my head — there is no such thing as empty. 

The works of “Impermanence” seem to always be in flux, art that appeared stagnant but became unpredictable and uncertain. The gallery’s destabilizing effect is an example of how fleeting our perceptions are, but also a testament to their limitlessness.

Colors morph into gradients. Images can be lost in an instant. Light illuminates details unseen from other angles.

“Impermanence” reminded me to slow down, spend time looking, engage with my body and allow these perceptions to take shape, like light breaking through a cloud. I can assure you it has changed my perception of art, and I won’t just be standing still and simply staring again.


While “Impermanence” is closed, there is a virtual tour available through the Salt Lake Arts Council. Upcoming exhibitions at Finch Lane Gallery feature work from Annelise Duque & Gwen Davis-Barrios and Doug Wildfoerster. They run from Aug. 13 to Sept. 24.


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