A Painter's Novel:
NORTHEAST chronicles seventeen years of the life of a live-in servant. A sort of manifesto, map, and drawing process, the novel directly informs the images within it. The dualistic view I offer (prose and imagery), protracts and deepens what would otherwise be a standard artist's portrait. Fiction and the portrait are concepts that intermingle.
NORTHEAST is an upstairs downstairs tale, set in the homes of prominent American families on the East Coast. Narrated by a young man who leaves architecture school to become the live-in servant to one of Boston’s original Harvard-educated Brahmin families, the story examines social division through humorous charades that occur in seaside cottages, country clubs, and one notorious Park Avenue apartment. The narrator’s underlying struggle is to reconcile his willingness to serve his elderly employers in all manner of love and humiliation, in exchange to live among the society he wishes to emulate. Though he is charismatic and perpetually youthful, his need to grow up and finally move out, haunts him throughout the story.
Artist Bio / CV
Suzy Spence lives in Montpelier, Vermont and Brooklyn, New York. Her faux society portraits and genre paintings explore the relationship between art production and patronage. In a forthcoming illustrated novel, NORTHEAST, Spence examines the intimate relationship between a master and servant, and casts painting (hobby, object, investment) as a supporting character.
Spence has an M.F.A. from The School of Visual Arts, attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Parsons School of Design, and Smith College. She has exhibited in the United States and Europe in solo and group shows, including Winkelman Gallery, American Fine Arts / Colin DeLand Fine Arts, Pat Hearn Gallery, Matthew Marks, Rare, Momenta Art, Holly Solomon Gallery (New York), The Arnolfini, Southampton City Art Gallery (United Kingdom), The Glarner Kunstverein (Switzerland), the Grazer Kunstverein (Austria), and numerous art fairs.
Her paintings and curatorial efforts have received critical attention in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Paper Magazine and the Brooklyn Rail, among other publications.??Spence has taught digital media at Pratt University and worked in the Curatorial Department of The New Museum of Contemporary Art during Marcia Tucker's tenure. In 2009, she and fellow painter Leslie Brack, co-curated The Mood Back Home, an exhibition inspired by Womanhouse, at Momenta Art, Brooklyn. In spring 2012 she lectured about theoretical trends in Contemporary Art at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, Vermont.
Recent Fellowships and Awards 2012 Vermont Studio Center Writing Fellowship
2009 New York Foundation for the Arts Fiscal Sponsorship
Teaching 2010 – 2012 Visiting Critic, Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Visual Arts
2012 Lecturer, Helen Day Art Center, Stowe VT
2002 Lecturer, Pratt Institute, New York City