Susanna Coffey | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Susanna Coffey

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Susanna Coffey, who teaches at the School of the Art Institute, has been painting self-portraits for many years, but the eight at Maya Polsky, shown with ten small flower paintings, are apocalyptic--it isn't hard to see they're haunted by 9/11 even without knowing that Coffey lives part of the year in lower Manhattan. In Fall her face is seen in front of a deep blue cityscape with several burning buildings, a mushroomlike cloud rising from one. In Valent burning buildings stand across a river, the multicolored sky echoing J.M.W. Turner's famous paintings of the burning houses of parliament. Perhaps the bleakest is Conveyance: Coffey, wearing a bathing cap, appears in front of a few low buildings under a dust-choked sky not unlike the one in images taken just after the Twin Towers' collapse. These three somewhat soft-focus oil paintings are more emotionalized than realistic. Because Coffey's emotionally wrecked face, her eyes at least partly closed, is at the bottom center of each, it seems that the whole weight of the chaotic scene rests on her shoulders. Maya Polsky, 215 W. Superior, through June 30. Hours are 10 to 5 Tuesday through Friday and 11 to 5 Saturday; 312-440-0055.

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