I first encountered the work of Susan Copen Oken in connection with an exhibition and publication of photographs on the theme of Mothers and Daughters which I prepared for Aperture. The project toured 10 major museums in the United States. Susan Copen Oken’s photograph was singled out by reviewers for special attention. Her work has a marvellous resiliency of style, and a witty distinctive execution that immediately captured the attention of the project editors. Her work was among the 90 artists selected from submissions of over 3,000 works for inclusion, and that is in itself a testimony to its force.
More of her the images were included in the project entitled "Swimmers." The work is different in nature, sensual and open, but shares a quality of place and a spontaneity of expression with her earlier efforts. Susan Copen Oken concentrates on the quirky exoticism of Americana, the social rituals that endure in the most unexpected places, the crooked themes in our national psyche. Taken together, they suggested in all humility some surprising truths.
—Nan Richardson, Editor, Aperture.
Susan Copen Oken was named the most important, lesser-known, photographer of her generation by consummate photographer Richard Avedon.