Mudge Fellow Silas Finch brings talent to Groton


L. Toce '19

Silas Finch works with Nico ‘17 on a project during a workshop.

As Ms. Van Gelder says, Groton’s annual  Mudge Fellow must be someone who “works well with teenagers” and with whom “kids can relate.” Silas Finch certainly embodies these traits through his friendly character and incredible work. Silas was introduced to Groton five years ago when his brother, Abe Finch, Groton’s percussion and steel drums teacher, connected him with Ms. Van Gelder. When she first visited Silas’ website, she was “absolutely in awe.” Her decision to invite him paid off because the residency was extremely successful; it was so successful that she wanted to bring him back a second time.  As Adia Fielder ‘17, who was in Second Form when Silas came five years ago, puts it, “Silas Finch is sick.”

Silas is a completely self-taught artist whose work is more about the process than it is about the perfect result. Ms. Van Gelder says his process can teach students how “artists get ideas and how they follow through on their ideas.” His work is unique because, instead of buying all of his supplies, Silas scavenges for items and finds a way to repurpose items in his everyday life. This year some art classes were able to repurpose horseshoe crab shells that Silas collected as well as old film cameras, tools, and bottles to create masterpieces. Although Silas does repurpose found objects and is beginning to dabble into fashion as an art form, he prefers not to be called a “found object artist.” He says, “I just like to call myself a sculptor.”

Silas is not just a sculptor, however. In a former life, one not dominated by art, Silas was a serious skateboarder and is currently a professional rock climber. Part of Silas’ brilliance is that he is able to incorporate the various aspects of his life into his art. His climbs have led to him being featured in Rock & Ice Magazine as well as being part of a rock climbing spectacular called Terra Tractus: The Earth Moves. With other artists, Silas rock climbed and zip lined while painting free hand on a giant quarry wall. Silas says, “They hired me, one because I was an artist and two because I was a professional climber.” In addition, Silas was recently featured in a pictorial for Reserve Magazine, an international fashion magazine. He also designed the set for the movie My Brother Jack. “Because I do all these collaborations and I put my work in all different elements, it comes back,” Silas says.

Although Silas has only been calling himself a professional artist for the past ten years, his career really began in high school. Silas says his late art teacher prompted him, saying, “‘If you have idle hands, go to the back room and just mess around.’ I was hooked.” For any students who are afraid to acknowledge themselves, Silas says he didn’t even know he was an artist until high school. “I was afraid,” he says, “It’s really hard in high school. I know that. It doesn’t have to be in front of everybody.” Nevertheless, he stresses the importance of trying and trying again. “Some of my best sculptures are the ones I messed up on, threw across the room, picked up, turned upside down, and realized that’s cooler,” he admits. Most importantly, he says, is “don’t just do one thing.” Try out different styles and mediums and find what works and what doesn’t. “Let it out and the best stuff comes to you,” he advises.

As the Mudge Fellow, Silas was on campus from December 1st to 9th. He taught workshops open to all students. Resulting projects will be showcased in the Dining Hall. Silas’s own work is located in the Brodigan Gallery, including the dress that was featured in Reserve Magazine.