Sue Coe

Sue Coe

"Woman walks into a bar- is raped by four men on the pool table- while 20 watch" (1983), Mixed Media

         Sue Coe’s piece titled “Woman walks into a bar- is raped by four men on the pool table- while 20 watch”, is not only disturbing, but its true. Sue Coe had heard about this horrific crime that had happened to a women when she had gone into a bar to buy a pack of cigarettes. When she had heard about this story she decided to create a drawing, which at the time was similar to the final piece.

         This piece tells the story very well, especially coming from someone else’s point of view. She was able to capture the moment when the victim was being raped on the pool table, and gave great detail as to what was happening. This poor women is being victimize by not only just the four men who raped her, but by the entire bar who simply thought nothing of the matter, and watched as it all took place.

         Although her perspective is slightly off, she is able to create the illusion that you are right there and up close in the scene. She creates the piece so that certain areas are “highlighted” in color, which allows your eye to jump from one piece of the canvas to another. Most of the piece is done in dark, black, and gray shades. It gives you that feel of darkness, as if the feeling of rape was to be given a color, or colors, these dark shades would fit the title well.

         It grabs that emotional aspect by the reins and tugs tightly by the woman being nude and skeletal. She creates the fragility of the woman and enhances the men’s “power” over her by making them much larger than her, and more muscular. She is able to create a piece that continually has chaos all over, but was able to keep her main focal point of the woman on the pool table.

         From the MOMA website, Sue Coe had made a statement about the piece. She stated “Basically, this painting is therapy. It’s what you do with extreme fury, when we witness such cruelty and oppression, where do we put that? And I put that in the work. It opens up a dialogue, it gives people an opportunity to talk about these issues. I’ve seen men stand in front of this painting and they’ve discussed rape, and they’ve vocalized their feelings about this painting. Doing this work can change people. It’s changed me seeing work like this. So it is part and parcel of change, not to ignore social issues”. This statement of hers greatly expresses her reasoning for creating the piece. She expresses her opinion on how society today ignores these important issues and that she is one of the artists that vocalizes her opinions through her work on this serious issue.

         I think this piece is a great example of giving society a dose of reality and what is happening in our world today. Unlike the other pieces in this exhibit, Coe’s piece is based off a story that truly happened. She has taken her opinion and mixed it in with her anger on the subject, and created a piece that will express the horrifying emotions of the victims of violence.



( To view Curatorial Statement return to “Home” page.)


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