Coffey is a tenured professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she has taught since 1982. Her self-portraits, which have been her primary subject matter for many years, have evolved over time from examinations of guise and identity to “painterly situations” that strive for a “meaning that merges materiality with feeling.”
Coffey earned her MFA from Yale University and has received numerous awards from institutions including the National Academy Museum, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has been a member of the National Academy of Art & Design since 1999. Coffey’s work is represented in many collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Seville, Spain, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cincinnati Museum of Art and the Hood Museum, Dartmouth College.