Island Press logo





previous button next button   4 of 21
Keyworks   back to keyworks index
Thank You America

Sue Coe

British, Born 1951

Thank You America 1991
Master printer - Kevin Garber
Photolithograph from two Fuji positive plates with handcoloring
Rives BFK, cream
40"h x 29"w
Ed. 30
  zoom in on image  
British artist Sue Coe visited the Washington University Collaborative Printmaking Workshop in 1991.(1)She had come to the United States in 1972, and by the mid-1980s was well known for her social-protest images in the field of journalism. Her art addressed issues such as animal rights, AIDS, African apartheid, racism in America, and women’s rights. In early November 1991, she made four prints at WUCPW including Thank You America, which addressed the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas that had just been held in October. In those Senate hearings, Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexual harassment, a claim that he consistently denied. Eventually, Clarence Thomas was granted a seat on the Supreme Court, but it was amidst the swirling controversy of sex, gender, and race. The country was bitterly divided between those who supported Thomas as a brilliant judge deserving of this appointment and those who saw him as an opportunistic liar seeking to ascend to the highest court in the land and destroy Anita Hill in the process. Sue Coe depicts Hill with her hands tied behind her back, being burned at the stake. Coe interpreted the episode as a witch-hunt (symbolized by the witch on the broomstick at the top of the image). The Senators on the Judiciary Committee, all men, look upon her as she burns, while the press also watches her suffering. Hill is surrounded by the men who have condemned her – in the end, there is no redemption. Coe’s Thank You America turned out to be one of the most powerful works that had been produced at WUCPW.

Marilyn Kushner
Curator and Chair of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
Brooklyn Museum of Art
1 Island Press was originally known as the Washington University Collaborative Printmaking Workshop until the name was changed in 1996.