In 1983, PPOW opened its gallery with a solo exhibition of Coe’s paintings and went on to successfully represent the artist for several years. Coe would later join Galerie St. Etienne, home to some of Coe’s favorite German Expressionist artists. By the late 80s, Coe had been featured on the cover of Art News and her work appeared in numerous museum collections and exhibitions, including a 1994 retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.
Aware of the rarified air of the gallery and museum world, Coe remains committed to making art accessible for the masses. Through printmaking, Coe found a way to serve that 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. Cruel (2012), is a continued, critical look at the animal industry, built upon her groundbreaking book Dead Meat (1996). The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto (2016) features close to 100 original woodcuts and linocuts advocating for animal abolition, while Zooicide: Seeing Cruelty, Demanding Abolition (2018), uses original drawings and linocuts to show why Zoos should be abolished. Earlier publications include the aforementioned How to Commit Suicide in South Africa (1983)and X (1986), as well as Police State (1987), and Pit’s Letter (2000).
In 2013, Coe was awarded the prestigious Dickinson College Arts Award in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art in 2015 and the Lifetime Achievement in Printmaking Award by the Southern Graphics Council International in 2017. The Culture and Animals Foundation recognized Coe with the 2022 Nancy Regan Arts Prize. 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 as well as the continued undermining of democracy and slide into fascism guided by the Trump-led Republican party. Many of these recent artworks have now been published in the anti-fascist political pamphlets American Fascism Now (2020) and American, Fascism Still! (2022), a collaboration between the artist and art historian Stephen F. Eisenman.
Lectures, Printmaking Workshops, and Visiting Artist Programs
An art department, with its printing presses, litho stones, easels and flat files, is a place of the cross pollination of ideas, across cultures and generations. It Facilitates learning and passing along the techniques of excellence, to hone and carry ideas. Murals, posters, pamphlets, prints, sketchbooks, and paintings are both of their time and defy time, finding their place in the struggle.
Cultural workers are always in the frontline battle for democracy, because art contains the dialectics of what politics cannot. Democracy is the only path possible, if life on this planet is to survive. Art can offer action to inaction, and Inspiration to combat learned helplessness and despair.
The billionaire class can make art into property and starve artists, but they cannot own the people's culture. Art gives life meaning, the artist can smell the ink and the paint, feel the paper, follow the pencil line, all the way to being inspired for a lifetime. —Sue Coe, 2022
Notable Awards, Honors and Teaching Positions2022Recipient of the Nancy Regan Arts Prize by the Culture & Animals Foundation2019Juror: international juried exhibition FL3TCH3R Exhibit: Social and Politically Engaged Art, at the East Tennessee State University's Mary B. Martin School of the Arts & the Reece Museum, Johnson City2017Lifetime Achievement in Printmaking Award, Southern Graphics Council International2016Juror: national juried exhibition Personal is Political is Personal: Curated by Sue Coe, 440 Gallery, Brooklyn2015Lifetime Achievement Award, Women's Caucus for Art2013-2014Arts Award of Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA2010Philagraphika participant, Philadelphia2009Winner: 184th Annual Exhibition of the National Academy, New York, for the painting Mary2005Coe's book Sheep of Fools wins a PETA Progress Award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year2004Recipient of the Activist of the Year Award given by the Institute for Animals & Society at the Nineteenth Annual International Compassionate Living Festival2001-2004Instructor: Reportage/Social Political Art, Parsons School of Design, New York2001Juror: 21st Annual Statewide Print Competition, Alma College, Alma, MI1999-2001Board Member: Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, NY1999Winner: 174th Annual Exhibition of the National Academy, New York, for the painting Cassius Clay1994Outstanding National Activist Award, the Culture & Animals Foundation1992Recipient of the Dolly Green Special Achievement Award at the Sixth Annual Genesis Awards, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)1991Coe's book Dead Meat wins a Genesis Award, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)1970sInstructor: Illustration, School of Visual Arts, New York
Sue Coe Works in Public Collections
Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Arts Council England
Baltimore Museum of Art
Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Davis Museum, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, Los Angeles
Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin—Madison
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Modern Art Oxford, England
Museum of Modern Art, New York
New York Public Library
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Portland Art Museum, OR
Progressive Art Collection, Mayfield, OH
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota, Duluth
University of Alabama, Birmingham
University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Sue Coe: ARTIST. ACTIVIST. GRAPHIC WITNESS.
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 City in the early 1970s and made it her home; in 2012 she became an American citizen. 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, she has trained her gaze on a wide variety of ills, 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, filled with unblinking politics, struck nerves when it appeared throughout the 1980s and continues to do so today.
Working as an illustrator since moving to the United States, Coe’s reputation over the next two decades allowed her to set her own agenda with her editors. Her politically pointed illustrations graced the pages of a variety of disparate publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Nation, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Mother Jones, Entertainment Weekly, and The Progressive, among countless others. While she was able to get a fair number of uncompromised images into print, however, she also grew frustrated by the growing corporatization of the American publishing industry. She started creating her own body of work and sought outlets to get the work published, and soon developed a working relationship with Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, co-founders of the groundbreaking Comics magazine Raw (1979-1991). Not only was Coe’s work featured in almost every issue, Raw also published her books How to Commit Suicide in South Africa (1983) and X (1986). In the mid 1980s, Coe also became a contributor to the left-wing comics anthology World War 3 Illustrated, a relationship that continues to this day. Coe’s work has also appeared in numerous Blab! anthologies published over the past two decades. She is widely regarded as one of the best and most scathing political artists of her time.