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Artist Susanna Coffey: Painting Identity, Teaching Experiences, & Supporting Artists

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

In this episode, I talk to the incredible painter, Susanna Coffey about her life and work. We dive into Susanna’s childhood, how she discovered art, the work she did with others during her time in school, feminism, her palette, her love of teaching, and many other topics. Susanna is a prolific artist whose work is striking to see. The pieces draw you in and allow us to see ourselves and our situations reflected back. In addition to the incredible work Susanna creates, she is also a dedicated mentor who has been generous with her time and ideas with students and artists.

Susanna Coffey’s portraits are investigations of the iconic human head. The work is driven by questions about what a portrait image can mean. What is a beautiful appearance? Why do conventionally gendered images involve caricature? Can inchoate feeling-states be adequately portrayed? Meticulously observed, most works show her in many guises and locations: under dramatic lighting, highly costumed, inside a studio, within landscapes, foliage, places of fiery devastation, and amidst phantasmagoric patterns. Some portraits seem almost entirely abstract with only the barest suggestion of a human face.

Coffey’s artwork has been exhibited in many museums including The Weatherspoon Art Museum, The Aldrich Museum, The Hood Museum, The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work is in the collections of The Yale University Art Gallery, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Minneapolis Museum of Art, The National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C., The Karamay Museum of Art, Xinjiang China and Museum of Contemporary Art, Seville, Spain, among others. Among her awards are The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. Susanna Coffey lives and works in New York City.

Susanna Coffey’s work is represented by Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects in New York City, Alpha Gallery in Boston, and Galeria Isabel Ignacio in Seville, Spain.


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