Becky Suss, 8 Greenwood Place (1985–88), 2021. Oil on canvas. 84 × 60 × 1 1/2 inches (213.4 × 152.4 × 3.8 cm). Promised Gift of Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. © Becky Suss
The precisely painted domestic interiors at the center of Philadelphia-based artist Becky Suss’s work ascribe meaningful value to historically undervalued spaces. Suss understands these spaces to be associated historically with women and children, and thus overlooked or deemed unimportant. The artist carefully attends to these spaces, painting them largely from memory in her sharp, flat, signature style, with exaggerated proportions to amplify the tension between fact and fiction that playfully animates these works.
8 Greenwood Place (1985–88) is from a series of painted portraits of Suss’s various childhood bedrooms. Though the interiors are devoid of figures, signs of the room’s dwellers abound: here, a Hula-Hoop, an origami fortune teller, polka-dot sneakers, and a magic eight ball indicate a child subject. At the center of the painting is a dollhouse perched on a table in front of a colorful, wall-mounted quilt patterned with tulips. In each of the house’s windows, Suss depicts interiors pulled from children’s books, such as Miss Rumphius (a slightly altered copy of which appears open and on the room’s floor), Where the Wild Things Are, and the series The Berenstain Bears. Children’s books have been a consistent source of inspiration for Suss, especially after becoming a parent herself and returning to the literature of her childhood. The series, then, looks back at childhood through an autobiographical lens, marking its many turns through Suss’s lived experiences and memories, and the objects that speak to growing up in a particular time and place. With 8 Greenwood Place (1985–88), Suss explores the intimate relationships that exist with a child’s bedroom and children’s literature, as spaces of imagination, possibility, and world building.