Samuel Finkelstein ’14 majored in art, with a concentration in painting, and moved to New York City soon after graduating from Hamilton. He worked first as an art handler in the David Zwirner Gallery warehouse, then as a freelance preparator, all the while creating his own art. Finkelstein even found himself affordable studio space.
Now, however, he’s heading into his first winter in Rockland, Maine, ready to work whatever the weather. He’s laid in a couple of cords of wood for the stove that heats his cabin, and he has the gear and the space to pursue an interest that would be more challenging to undertake in New York. His focus now is on sculpting.
I think Hamilton made it easier to be able to basically be anywhere and find some kind of common interest with whomever I’m meeting because of how diverse the student body is, at least in terms of academic pursuits.
“It's very difficult to work on stone in the city because proper ventilation is an issue, and most people don't have access to an outdoor space. But here I have my whole backyard, I've set up some work benches, and I have insulated coveralls, so hopefully I can work outside through the winter,” Finkelstein says.
Things were going well in New York, but when he went to Maine for a couple of weeks of break from the city, he fell in love with the place and decided to prolong his stay, which broadened the scope of his work. “I knew coming up that I was going to take advantage of the different environmental influences from New York in terms of my art practice,” he says. He’s working more, for instance, with natural materials.
After Hamilton: art handler, David Zwirner Gallery; freelance preparator; full-time artist
Finkelstein became an apprentice to a potter, which led to a part-time job with her and to access to her equipment, so he’s also working in ceramics. The two-week escape has stretched into more than six months and counting. In fact, Finkelstein is trying to convince a friend and Hamilton art alum to join him there.
He has, however, hung on to his New York studio, subletting it in case he ever wants to reclaim it. Finkelstein says going to New York right after school helped him make connections in the art world and form a community, which gave him the freedom to travel knowing he had a base to return to.
“I think Hamilton made it easier to be able to basically be anywhere and find some kind of common interest with whomever I'm meeting because of how diverse the student body is, at least in terms of academic pursuits,” Finkelstein observes.