Sue coe

A bio on one of our featured artists in the Interruptions Group Show

Since the 1970s, Sue Coe has worked at the juncture of art and social activism to expose injustices and abuses of power. Born in England in 1951, she moved to New York in the early 1970’s and made it her home; in 2012 she became an American citizen. Sue Coe has always been ahead of the curve on social issues, her art a conduit for her progressive politics. Thinking of herself as an activist first and artist second, Sue has trained her gaze on a wide variety of ills from the first, translating such diverse topics as the perils of apartheid, the life of Malcolm X, and the horror that is the American meat industry into artworks, exhibitions and books. Coe’s graphic art and unblinking politics struck nerves when it appeared throughout the 1980’s and continues to do so today. An illustrator since moving to the United States from England in 1972, Sue’s reputation by the early 90’s allowed her to set her own agenda with her editors, and Sue’s illustrations from that time period reflect this conflation, with politically pointed illustrations gracing the pages of a variety of disparate publications, including The New York Times, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, The Progressive, The Nation among countless others. By the late 80’s Sue had been featured on the cover of Art News and her work appeared in numerous museum collections and exhibitions, including a 1992 retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.

Through printmaking, Coe found a way to serve a broad audience, disseminating her messages through affordably-priced prints accessible to people of all financial means. Numerous books and visual essays published over the years have served a similar purpose; over the past two decades, book projects have included Bully: Master of the Global Merry-Go-Round (2004), a scathing critique of the Bush administration, as well as the book Sheep of Fools: A Song Cycle for Five Voices (2005), which gives a broad history of sheep farming, highlighting the abuses of the animals for human gain. “MAD AS HELL!,” Coe’s 2012 exhibition at the Galerie St. Etienne, concomitantly published by O/R Books in book form as Cruel, is a continued, critical look at the animal industry, built upon her groundbreaking book Dead Meat (1996). The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto, published in 2016, features close to 100 original woodcuts and linocuts advocating for animal abolition; Zooicide: Seeing Cruelty, Demanding Abolition, published in 2018, uses original drawings and linocuts to show why the solution is not to reform Zoos, but to abolish them. Other publications include How to Commit Suicide in South Africa (1983), X (1986), Police State (1987), and Pit’s Letter (2000), The Ghosts of Our Meat (2013).

In 2013, Coe was awarded the prestigious Dickinson College Arts Award in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Sue also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art in 2015, and more recently, was awarded the 2017 Lifetime Achievement in Printmaking Award by The Southern Graphics Council in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2018, Coe’s solo exhibition at MoMA PS1, “Sue Coe: Graphic Resistance,” received rave reviews. Since 2016, the artist has focused on documenting the misdeeds of the Trump administration and, more recently, its failure to adequately address COVID-19.