Weekly artist series: Week 9 Part 2 SUE COE: A mother dying

Week 9 Part 2 Sue Coe

The Last 11 Days is a group of charcoal drawings Sue Coe created from July 20 to 31, 1995 depicting her mother as she lay dying with cancer. The drawings reveal Coe’s private struggle with her mother’s illness and eventual death. [source]

I’m not a big fan of the word “resonate.”  The meaning is OK, but the word irritates me for many reasons.  But I have to use it when describing Sue Coe’s drawing of her dying mother.  These pieces resonate with me as I feel such connection to my own experience.

From the series ; Charcoal on paper; 11 x 13 in.; Gift of Patti Cadby Birch; © Galerie St. Etienne, New York


Unlike her other work, The Last 11 Days were created without the intention of being shown and reveal Coe’s private struggle with her mother’s illness and eventual death. Sue Coe is inspiring in every form, supporting issues that plague the world and refusing to sit quietly in their wake. She continues to be a magnetic force in the complex world of contemporary women artists.

One day, I will revisit  and draw from the photos of my mother‘s declining body and the photo after she passed, but not yet.

What do you want to process eventually?

I know the process of drawing mom in her last weeks will be an important and necessary one for me personally.  I hold onto her purse, her wallet, her phone, her trinkets, her perfume, even her last umbrella.

Before I went to San Francisco, I visited mom’s memorial leaf and just cried and cried.  It’s not about needing to work on something unfinished.  I’m working.  It’s about not shying away from the processes of life.  I don’t want to shy away.

My daughter can feel the presence of “Mormor” in her daily life in San Francisco.  We often talk about how Mormor flew right down to Anna in San Francisco when she left her body.

Anna sees Mormor at the SFMOMA in the portrait by Matisse.  I love that Mom also had green eyes.

The Girl with Green Eyes, 1908
Henri Matisse

See also:

35 PART daily journal exercise

Weekly artist exploration/journaling series INTRO

Weekly artist series Week 1 parts 1-6 FRIDA KAHLO

Weekly artist series Week 2 parts 1-6 PICASSO

Weekly artist series Week 3 parts 1-5 LISA LARSON

Weekly artist series Week 4 parts 1-3 GEORGE GROSZ 

Weekly artist series Week 5 parts 1-4 FAITH RINGGOLD

Weekly artist series Week 6 Parts 1-3 BASQUIAT

Weekly artist series Week 7 Parts 1-4 deKOONING

Weekly artist series Week 8 Parts 1-3: OTTO DIX

Weekly artist series Week 9 Part 1: SUE COE Life in a Day

Mom's parrot, Asterix, lives with me now. I love when he does her belly laugh and answers the phone in her Swedish accent.

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