The Culture & Animals Foundation (CAF) is delighted to announce that artist and activist Sue Coe has been awarded the 2022 Nancy Regan Arts Prize for her decades-long work on behalf of animal rights. For videos of her talking about her work, with CAF board member Kim Stallwood, click here.
For Sue, the Arts Prize reminds of her long relationship with CAF, which in 1994 at its International Compassionate Living Festival awarded Sue Coe the Outstanding National Activist Award. “It was shocking,” she remembers. “It was stunning, and such a beautiful gift. And now this gift: it’s a bookend to forty years of work.”
That work has consisted of powerful, indelible images of animals within the human environment: whether in slaughterhouses (collected in Dead Meat, 1995), the circus (Bully: Master of the Global Merry-Go-Round, 2004), live transport (Sheep of Fools, 2005), laboratory testing (Pit’s Letter, 2000), zoos (Zooicide: Seeing Cruelty, Demanding Abolition, 2018), systemic abuse (Cruel: Bearing Witness to Animal Exploitation, 2011), or, more positively, The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto 2016.
When she was first starting out in animal advocacy, reflects Sue, CAF co-founders Tom and Nancy Regan were very supportive. This was especially true for an artist. “Tom and Nancy wanted to bring in culture,” she says, “because when something is witnessed alone in isolation, it’s not real in that sense. But when, culturally, it’s shared with others, it becomes real. The viewer decides, ‘This is art,’ and this is something they agree with or something they have seen, and it becomes a community. And that was the importance of what Tom and Nancy did by combining the ideology of rights with culture and broadening it out to so many people from all over the world.”
Although the experiences of nonhuman animals form the majority of Sue Coe’s artistic endeavors, her oeuvre, which evokes the fierce political art of Francisco Goya, Käthe Kollwitz, George Grosz, and the eighteenth-century British caricaturist James Gillray, encompasses many pressing social issues: from the depredations of unbridled capitalism to victims of war, from the politically and socially oppressed to the plight of labor and those dying of AIDS.
CAF’s decision, said CAF board member Suzanne Pender, reflected the organization’s mission: “Sue’s work bears powerful witness to the injustices of our world, with breathtaking artistry, steadfast determination, and compassionate intimacy. Hopefully, one day our world will transform and evolve from the nightmarish reality Sue challenges us to confront.”
The Nancy Regan Arts prize, named after CAF’s late co-founder, is an annual award of $2000 given to an individual or team who applied that year for a grant from the organization, or who has produced an outstanding body of work in support of animal rights. In 2021, the inaugural Nancy Regan Arts Prize was given to Hong Kong–based graphic artist Joan Chan Wing Yan (left).
For more information on the Nancy Regan Arts Prize, contact Executive Director Martin Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.