The Galerie St. Etienne Presents Sue Coe: It Can Happen Here

Visual Arts

The Galerie St. Etienne is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of works by British-American artist Sue Coe. Titled It Can Happen Here, the exhibition examines Coe’s decades-long practice of critiquing the American political establishment and other global societal issues. On view September 15 – December 23, 2020, It Can Happen Here comprises approximately 70 paintings, drawings, and prints, of which about half are linocuts completed since 2016.

It Can Happen Here traces how woes that began with the Reagan administration in the 1980s came to define our current reality in 2020: the Republican party’s embrace of racism and xenophobia, the persistence of police brutality, the influence of money in politics and the media, the fixation on stock prices as the measure of all things, the wars fomented at the behest of the oil industry and other multinational corporations, the attempts to roll back abortion rights, the degradation of the judiciary and healthcare systems, along with the environment, the subordination of human and animal rights to commercial interests, and the rise of global pandemics – from the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and ‘90s to Ebola, swine flu, and most recently, the novel coronavirus.

Inspired in part by the availability of lumber near her home in rural upstate New York, Coe began making woodcuts in 2005. Some of her earliest woodcuts addressed the government’s abandonment of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and the true victims and victors in the “war on terror.” Approaching the 2016 election, Coe turned to linocut in an effort to more efficiently produce work. The 2016 linocut It Can Happen Here (Trump), was produced at a time when polls suggested that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election. Subsequent prints documented the early months of the Trump administration: Tweeter in Chief, Unpresidented, and Total Eclipse of Rationality. In the intervening years Coe has recorded specific incidents: ICE’s detention of children, Trump’s appointments of Susan Haspel and Brett Kavanaugh, the “accidental” death of 72 low-income tenants in the Grenfell Tower fire in her native England, and, continuing her decades-long research into zoonotic diseases, the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus.

From the start of 2020, Coe has continually created new works documenting the impact of COVID-19 and the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic. Coe’s 2020 linocut Dr. MAGA depicts a Venetian plague doctor with Trump’s dubious “MAGA” logo displayed across his wide-brimmed hat. In keeping with her long-standing advocacy of animal rights, Coe also highlights the parallels between meat consumption and viral disease in Carnivorous/Coronavirus. Other recent works, such as the 2020 linocut Fog of Fascism, explore themes of police brutality, fascism and injustice.

Contact: Abby Addams