Susan Seydel Cofer began her lifelong association with the High as a young girl taking art classes in Mrs. Hattie High’s home, the original location of what would become the Atlanta College of Art and the High Museum of Art. Those early classes would set Susan on a path to immerse herself in art and creativity as a student, teacher, and acclaimed artist who has been exhibiting her works regularly since 1976, including a major retrospective at the High in 2011–2012 titled Susan Cofer: Draw Near.
Susan remains one of the Museum’s longest-standing members dating back to the origins of the program. She proudly became a Charter Member in 1983 to commemorate the opening of the Museum’s new Richard Meier-designed building, the Stent Family Wing, of which she shared, “I applaud Gudmund Vigtel for having the confidence to build a new home for the High outside of the Memorial Arts Building. That was a real turning point for the Museum.”
Over the years, her philanthropic support deepened as she increased her annual giving as a member of the Circles and the Director’s Circle, supported major art acquisitions and exhibitions, created the Gudmund Vigtel Works on Paper Endowment for Programming, and provided funding for Walker County teachers to participate in the High’s professional development programs for educators.
When asked what motivated her philanthropic support, she said, “It started by thanking the Museum because I went to school there. Then I wanted to honor my aunt who was a painter and would spend time with me as a child fostering my own interest in painting. She died in the Orly plane crash. I always felt like I needed to do something for the arts in our community. Art has only become more and more important to our everyday lives.”
Susan has long been passionate about education and access to the Museum’s learning resources, especially for young people. One of her fondest memories is volunteering in the original family learning galleries, which later became the Greene Family Learning Gallery.
She feels her most impactful contribution has been making it possible for Walker County teachers to gain access to the Education department’s resources as participants of annual professional development opportunities, as well as sending teaching artists to Walker County schools to provide instruction there. “Everything coming out of the High’s Education department is amazing. Their work does wonders for rural communities,” she said.
When she thinks about the Museum’s future, she says she wants “everyone to feel welcome, to be educated, to love art, and for the bus loads of children to keep coming!”