By Hayley Tomlinson
Imagine waking up from a vivid black-and-white dream, in which you explored a recognizable yet distant city dense with foliage and structure, where the most intricate details were highlighted despite a sunless, cloudy sky, and you weren’t quite sure whether you were looking at a mural or real life. This is exactly how I felt when first viewing Becky Suss’ drawings, on display at Vox Populi. Her landscape drawings, void of any human activity, made me reminisce about being a child and exploring the depths of my grandma’s backyard, or weaving in and out of the strange apartment complex I once lived in. I felt alone, unsure, but happy to be on a strange adventure. There is something quite powerful about these drawings, although I might be biased since they brought up so many wonderful childhood memories. Suss’ ability to create something so simultaneously strange, empty, familiar, and beautiful is impressive, and that isn’t even taking into consideration her particular, obsessive details, where clusters of tiny marks make up a section of tree or ground.
Perhaps the most stimulating part of Suss’ exhibition is the level of complexity at which she draws her scenes. A mass of small, organized lines come together to create images of shrubbery, construction, and asphalt. Most important of all, what seems like a far away dreamland is actually a representation of various locations in Philadelphia, such as 4th and Girard, which in turn are titles of the works.
The scale of these drawings give off an air of importance and grandiosity, something that isn’t often awarded to such random city blocks. Perhaps these locations hold a special memory for Becky Suss. Maybe she wants to bring special attention to these otherwise overlooked intersections. The scene in the woods is where Becky got her first kiss. The drawing of a backyard is where Becky spent her childhood. 4th and Girard is the location of her first studio. Perhaps they mean all of these things. Perhaps they mean nothing at all. But these assumptions don’t make the work any better or any worse. They stand alone as lovely drawings: elegant, quiet, and detailed.
I must say that it is well worth it to trek up the creaky wooden staircase to Vox Populi, if only to see these enchanting works by Becky Suss. If I can find a childhood dreamland in each of her pieces, I can only imagine what other people might see for themselves. The show runs until October 30th. See it and relive your dreams.
Vox Populi Gallery.319 N 11th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.238.1236 Gallery hours – Wed. through Sun. noon to 6 pm
Hayley Tomlinson is a senior 3D fine arts major at Moore College of Art & Design. This semester, in her Critical Discourse class taught by Terri Saulin, she participated in a project in which Libby Rosof and Roberta Fallon came to their classroom and discussed how to look at and write about art, and afterwards the students travelled to old city on First Friday to write their own reviews. The essays were then judged by Libby and Roberta, and Hayley was chosen as the winner. The experience was coordinated by Culture in the Classroom, a program at Moore that helps link classroom experience with cultural opportunities and professionals in the arts in Philadelphia.