Susanna Coffey, who was born in New London, Connecticut, studied at Yale, teaches at the Art Institute of Chicago, and lives and works in New York, is best known for her self-portraits. These frontal heads set against backdrops of world locales and events are rigorous, unrelenting penetrations of the meeting-point of humanity and violence.
Over the last year, I got to know her, and another part of her painting practice. She works outdoors at night, making pulsating, loose landscapes and cityscapes on tiny canvases and boards. The differences between her practices are a reminder of how compelling the range of one’s humanness can be.
The sternness that her self-portraits suggest is undone by her personality, the way she connects with people, her love of dance and her spirituality. The focus on symmetry in Coffey’s work is not, in the end, about evenness, but rather a reminder of balance.