Sue Coe

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Sue Coe
Born (1951-02-21) 21 February 1951 (age 69)
Tamworth, Staffordshire
Alma materChelsea College of Art,
Royal College of Art
Known forPrints, paintings, illustrations, social protest art, animal rights activist

Sue Coe (born 21 February 1951) is an English artist and illustrator working primarily in drawing, printmaking, and in the form of illustrated books and comics. Her work is in the tradition of social protest art[1] and is highly political. Coe's work often includes animal rights commentary, though she also creates work that centralizes the rights of marginalized peoples and criticizes capitalism. Her commentary on political events and social injustice are published in newspapers, magazines and books. Her work has been shown internationally in both solo and group exhibitions[2] and has been collected by various international museums.[3][4] She lives in Upstate New York.[5]


Coe was born February 21, 1951[6] in Tamworth, Staffordshire, England.[7][better source needed] She grew up close to a slaughterhouse and developed a passion to stop cruelty to animals. According to Coe, her family lived directly behind a hog farm and were continually exposed to the stench from the slaughterhouse and screams from the animals.[8]

At age 16, Coe started studying at Chelsea College of Arts, where she graduated with a B.A. in 1970 at the age of 18.[9][10] Coe went on to study graphic design at Royal College of Art in London from 1970–1973. However, she was too young to attend and lied about her age on the college application.[10][11][12] After she received her M.A. from Royal College of Art, Coe moved to New York City,[2] where she lived between 1972 and 2001.[12] Coe had been an art teacher, and decided to fully dedicated herself to art making by 1978.[9] In 2013 she was a visiting artist at Parsons School of Design and taught about social awareness in art.[13]


Coe is a graphic artist and visual essayist. Though she primarily works in printmaking and illustration, she also practices in other visual media, including painting.[14] Coe's paintings and prints are auctioned as fundraisers for a variety of progressive causes. Since 1998, she has sold prints to benefit animal rights organizations. Her influences include the works of Chaim Soutine and José Guadalupe Posada, Käthe Kollwitz, Francisco Goya, and Rembrandt.[5]

Coe uses books and visual essays to explore various social topics including: factory farming, meat packing, apartheid, sweatshops, prison-industrial complex, AIDS, and war. Coe cites activists as the primary audience for her work.[15] As an illustrator, she is a frequent contributor to World War 3 Illustrated, and has seen her work published in The Progressive, Mother Jones, Blab, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Newsweek The Nation[16] and other periodicals. One of her illustrations was used on the cover of the book, Animals, Property, and the Law (1995) by Gary Francione, and her artwork is also featured in the animal rights movie, Earthlings.[17]

Coe's work is coupled to her activism, though the artist recoils from the "political artist" label.[18] Nevertheless, Coe's works have notable political messages. "Police State," an exhibition organized by the Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University, showcased works illustrating Coe's anti-war sentiments and critiques of international governments. Among the works included were "Your Class Enemy (The Great Miners Strike)," "England is a Bitch," and a number of Coe's New York Times illustrations.[18] Coe also expressed anti-war sentiments during Desert Storm through an illustration published in Entertainment Weekly.[19]

The artist's subjects are the victimized. She often depicts harsh realities,[20][21][22] and her subjects are largely animals and humans oppressed by social and political forces beyond their control.[19] For example, Coe and collaborator Holly Metz explore apartheid and the murder of Steve Biko in How to Commit Suicide in South Africa, a visual essay originally published by Raw Books & Graphics in 1983.[10][23] Sheep of Fools (2005), a horrific look at the conditions of sheep trade, and Dead Meat (1996), a journalistic piece illustrating the brutality of slaughterhouses throughout North America, are both longer narrative investigations into animal cruelty.[15][8][24]


Coe was elected into the National Academy of Design, as an Associate Academician in 1993, and became a full Academician by 1994. PETA progress awards named Sheep of Fools, Coe's collaboration with Judy Brody, Nonfiction Book of the Year in 2005.[15] In 2013, Dickinson College honored Coe with the Dickinson College Arts Award, in recognition as an influential cultural figure in the United States.[25] She was awarded the 2015 Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts award from Women's Caucus for Art, for her dedication to art and activism.[26] In 2017, Coe was awarded the SGCI Lifetime Achievement award in Printmaking from Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI).[27]

Museum collections[edit]

Coe's work is in the collections of various international museums including: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA),[4] Whitney Museum of American Art,[28] The Metropolitan Museum of Art,[29] Smithsonian American Art Museum,[30] Birmingham Museum of Art,[31] Art Institute of Chicago,[32] The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,[33] Cooper-Hewitt Museum,[34] Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam,[3] Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,[35] Harvard Art Museums,[36] Brooklyn Museum,[37] Walker Art Center,[38] and others.


Coe has been criticized by writers Cary Wolfe and Steven Baker for "audience positioning"[39] and using "stylistic sentimentality" to incite outrage and illicit specific responses from viewers.[40] She has also been criticized for using stereotypes, thereby creating dimensional representations of depicted victims.[10] Coe is also a harsh critic of herself, retroactively condemning X, her graphic companion to Malcom X's autobiography for the way it iconized him.[23]

Select exhibitions[edit]



Selected bibliography[edit]

  • How to Commit Suicide in South Africa (with Holly Metz). (1984) Random House. ISBN 0-394-62024-0
  • X (The Life and Times of Malcom X) (with Judith Moore). (1986) RAW Books. ISBN 1-56584-032-1
  • Police State (exhibition catalog). (1987). Anderson Gallery. ISBN 978-0935519075
  • Meat: Animals and Industry (with Mandy Coe). (1991) Gallerie Publications. ISBN 0-9693361-6-0
  • Dead Meat. (1996) Four Walls Eight Windows. ISBN 1-56858-041-X
  • Pit's Letter. (2000) Four Walls Eight Windows. ISBN 1-56858-163-7
  • Bully!: Master of the Global Merry-Go-Round (with Judith Brody). (2004) Four Walls Eight Windows. ISBN 1-56858-323-0
  • Sheep of Fools (with Judith Brody). (2005) Fantagraphics Books. ISBN 1-56097-660-8
  • Cruel: Bearing Witness to Animal Exploitation. (2012) OR Books. ISBN 978-1-935928-72-0
  • The Ghosts of our Meat (with Stephen Eisenman (Author), Phillip Earenfight (Editor)). (2014) ISBN 9780982615669
  • The Animals' Vegan Manifesto. (2017) OR Books. ISBN 978-1-682190-74-6
  • Zooicide - Seeing Cruelty, Demanding Abolition. (2018) AK Press. ISBN 978-1-849352-86-4


  1. ^ McKENNA, KRISTINE (4 August 1991). "ART : Slaughter of the Soul : Sue Coe's images of horror in the meat industry indict a dark consciousness that she sees at the core of man's cruelty to man". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Sue Coe at Galerie St. Etienne". Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Sue Coe". Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Sue Coe, MoMA Collection". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Sue Coe | artnet". Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  6. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Sue Coe". Galerie St. Etienne. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b Coe, Sue (1995). Dead Meat. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows. pp. 37-39. ISBN 1-56858-041-X.
  9. ^ a b "Sue Coe". AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d "Sue Coe: eyewitness". Eye Magazine. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  11. ^ "From NMWA's Vault: Sue Coe". Broad Strokes: The National Museum of Women in the Arts'. 9 April 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Sue Coe". HuffPost. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Video: Our amazing printmaking artist in residence, Sue Coe!". The New School, Parsons. 8 January 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  14. ^ Design dialogues. Heller, Steven., Pettit, Elinor. New York: Allworth Press. 1998. ISBN 1581150075. OCLC 40333540.CS1 maint: others (link)
  15. ^ a b c Baker, Stege (2013). Artist | Animal. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-8166-8066-5.
  16. ^ "Sue Coe". The Nation. 2 April 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Sue Coe". Widewalls. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  18. ^ a b Coe, Sue (1987). Police State, Exhibition Catalog. Richmond, Virginia: Anderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University.
  19. ^ a b Steven., Heller (1999). Design literacy (continued) : understanding graphic design. New York: Allworth Press. p. 219. ISBN 1581150350. OCLC 42290961.
  20. ^ 1935-, Kuspit, Donald B. (Donald Burton) (2000). Redeeming art : critical reveries. New York: Allworth Press. pp. 181. ISBN 1581150555. OCLC 43520985.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Design dialogues. Heller, Steven., Pettit, Elinor. New York: Allworth Press. 1998. pp. 170. ISBN 1581150075. OCLC 40333540.CS1 maint: others (link)
  22. ^ Coe, Sue (Summer 2012). "Inside the Abattoir". Earth Island Journal. 27 (2): 2 – via EBSCOhost.
  23. ^ a b Steven., Heller (1999). Design literacy (continued) : understanding graphic design. New York: Allworth Press. pp. 27, 219. ISBN 1581150350. OCLC 42290961.
  24. ^ 1951-, Coe, Sue (2005). Sheep of fools. Brody, J. A. (Judith A.), 1941-, Beauchamp, Monte. Seattle, Wash.: Fantagraphics. ISBN 1560976608. OCLC 59878338.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ "The Ghosts of Our Meat: Dickinson College Honors Sue Coe". Our Hen House. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  26. ^ "2015 Lifetime Achievement Awards" (PDF). Women's Caucus for Art (WCA). 2015.
  27. ^ "SGCI Awards: Past Recipients". Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI).
  28. ^ "Whitney Museum of American Art: Sue Coe". Whitney Museum of American Art, Collection. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  29. ^ "Sue Coe, Windstorm". The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met Museum). Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  30. ^ "Sue Coe". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Artists » Sue Coe, England, active United States, born 1951". Birmingham Museum of Art. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  32. ^ "The Hunted Haunt the Hunter". The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  33. ^ "Second Millennium". The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  34. ^ "Sue Coe". Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  35. ^ "What's Your Cut?". PAFA - Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  36. ^ "Sue Coe Collection". Harvard Art Museums. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  37. ^ "Sue Coe". Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 11 April 2018.,
  38. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. ^ Slowik, Mary (October 2007). "The Ethics of Audience Positioning in the Paintings of Leon Golub and the Prints of Sue Coe". Narrative. Ohio State University Press. 15 (3): 373–389. doi:10.1353/nar.2007.0020. S2CID 145342097.
  40. ^ Kuzniar, Alice (October 2011). "Where is the Animal after Post-Humanism? Sue Coe and the Art of Quivering Life". The New Centennial Review. 11 (2): 17–40. doi:10.1353/ncr.2012.0006. S2CID 144171343.
  41. ^ "'AIDS Suite' exhibit at medical library showcases work of artist/activist Sue Coe". YaleNews. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  42. ^ "Uncertain Intimacy: Sue Coe's AIDS Portfolio at Pomona Art Museum". KCET. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  43. ^ Motley, John. "Sue Coe". Portland Mercury. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  44. ^ "Bell Gallery exhibition of political artist Sue Coe to open September 7". Brown University, News. 2 August 2002. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  45. ^ "Directions: Sue Coe". Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Smithsonian. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  46. ^ "10 Must-See Art Shows Opening This Week". PAPER. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  47. ^ "Exhibition at Kennedy Museum of Art looks into art censorship". The Post. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  48. ^ "Women take on social issues in Rutgers show". Courier-Post. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  49. ^ Rosenberg, Karen (14 May 2009). "At the National Academy, Art by and for the Academy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  50. ^ "Make Art/Stop AIDS". Fowler Museum. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  51. ^ Smith, Roberta (3 October 1997). "ART REVIEW; The Modern's Trendy Windfall". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 April 2018.

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