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Lisa Kokin ~California

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Lisa Kokin Originally from the East Coast, Kokin settled in the San Francisco Bay Area after attending art school. She received her BFA and MFA from the California College of the Arts in Oakland. She creates mixed media work from collage to textile. She uses found objects, scraps, and remnants to create her book objects. Kokin has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and abroad. She teaches classes in collage, bookmaking, mixed media and directs a national art coaching & art mentorship program.

Wordless Library Series  
   

What I Didn't Learn in Hebrew School
By Lisa Kokin
El Sobrante, California: Lisa Kokin, 2005. One-of-a-Kind.

11.75 x 9.5 x .25" altered book. Mixed media book collage including sewing. Signed and dated by the artist.

Lisa Kokin: "Using an early 20th century book for children called 'Around the World' as a substrate, I abraded parts of the text and added found photos of children's faces which I sanded down to remove the features, as well as part of a page from a Hebrew school notebook similar to the ones I used as a child. Holes drilled into the book recall bullet holes.

"I was taught that no one lived in Israel/Palestine before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948."

Lisa Kokin, Book Collages: “In my never-ending quest to find different ways to eviscerate books, I stumbled upon the book collage. First I find a book which interests me, either for some element of text, image or marginalia, or for the look of the book itself. Sometimes I remove some of the pages and glue and/or sew the book open to the particular page of interest. Other times I remove all the pages and use the inside covers as the collage surface. I build upon what initially interests me by layering images and text from the same or other books, found photos, and other small objects, using a variety of collage and transfer techniques.”

Lisa Kokin, interview with Meg Hitchcock: “My imagery can vary a lot, but there are certain elements that unify my work. There’s the presence of sewing in one form or another, which I use as a means of attachment and embellishment. In the past I’ve made books, sculpture, and installations that have a social justice or historical component, and I’ve expressed my various experiences of being Jewish, being in a same-sex relationship, and my affinity with the underdog and marginalized. There’s also an ongoing investigation into Jewish history in a way that makes sense to me as an adult, as opposed to how it was taught to me as a child. So there’s a consistency of looking critically at the outer world and commenting on it, not heavy-handedly or didactically but often with humor. …

“I grew up in a Jewish family, very secular, but I went to Hebrew school which was an indoctrination into a certain way of thinking about being a Jew. I accepted it all until I became an adult and started thinking for myself, and eventually realized that I couldn’t accept the whole package.”
$3,200

What I Didn't Learn in Hebrew School book
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PMS Handbook
By Lisa Kokin
El Sobrante, California: Lisa Kokin, 1993. One-of-a-Kind.

7.5 x 9.5 x 4"; 16 pads making 32 pages. Materials: rubber; latex-coated mini-pads; leather; photo transfers; found objects. Mixed media collage. Bound with leather run through two holes in each leaf sewn to rubber glove. Covers made of rubber glove, rubber balloons and top of rubber hot water bottle. Includes cloth pathology bag.

Lisa Kokin, Mixed Media Books: "My definition of ‘book’ is open-ended, a freedom which is in many ways attributable to my lack of formal book art training. I am blissfully unaware of all the rules I am breaking as I go about my routine of sewing, stapling, riveting and otherwise reassembling objects to transform them into something readable. My books address themes which have preoccupied me for many years -- loss, the rescuing of memory, cultural and sexual identity, and a critique of the prevailing social values.”

In this mixed media book Kokin uses text from a Scientology pamphlet on latex-coated mini-pad pages. The first two leaves start with the instruction “Your happy task is to /separate your real nature / from the false nature / that has temporarily taken over your life.” An interesting pairing of Scientology instruction and doctrine with the natural function of a woman’s body.
$4,800

PMS Handbook
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Sí Fidel
By Lisa Kokin
El Sobrante, California: Lisa Kokin, 1993. One-of-a-Kind.

3 x 8.5 x 2.5"; 10 leaves.. Materials: globe parts, leather, paper. Mixed media collage. Binding two holes with leather cord.

Lisa Kokin: "’Sí Fidel’ is a book made out of a cut-up globe. The text relates to a dream in which I became a close confidant of Fidel Castro. Only when I was sure he completely trusted me did I reveal that I was a lesbian."

Lisa Kokin uses a variety of recycled and found materials to make book art. She says: “My definition of ‘book’ is open-ended, a freedom which is in many ways attributable to my lack of formal book art training. I am blissfully unaware of all the rules I am breaking as I go about my routine of sewing, stapling, riveting and otherwise reassembling objects to transform them into something readable. My books address themes which have preoccupied me for many years -- loss, the rescuing of memory, cultural and sexual identity, and a critique of the prevailing social values.”
$4,400

Si Fidel! book
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Habeas Corpus
By Lisa Kokin
El Sobrante, California: Lisa Kokin, 1992. One-of-a-Kind.

7 x 9.5 x 3" closed; 20 panels Materials: shoe last, gameboard pieces, ribbon, grommets. Text embossed into board game pieces. Wooden shoe last hinged. Pages created from gameboard pieces with ribbon binding. Title board nailed to shoe last base. Signed and dated on the bottom of the base by the artist.

Lisa Kokin: "A Jacob's ladder-type book with a humorous poem that I wrote after being verbally harassed on the street. … The shoe last is kind of a metaphor. I was being sexually harassed for my weight by some guys leaning out of a car -- symbol of oppression, crushed under the weight of sexism...something to that effect. As always I try to do when talking about serious subjects, I use humor as a vehicle for accessibility.”

Tis better to hide
One’s body these days
Than offering up
To unwanted male gaze …

$5,800

Habeas Corpus book
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Lisa Kokin, Wordless Library Series: “In the ‘Wordless Library’ series, I make conceptual book-like objects by sewing on metal with my beat up old jalopy of a Kenmore sewing machine, circa 1975. It is immensely satisfying, even cathartic, to puncture the metal with my machine. I start each piece without a preconceived notion of what it will become. I patinate, I puncture, and I perforate. “The stitch less stitches follow lines reminiscent of text; sometimes they are even grouped into ‘words.’ Other times they look as though an animal has bored into them, creating uneven lacunae. Some are books with pages, unreadable and repetitive, forming random lines and patterns, stark and minimalist, artifacts of the times we are living through."
   

Character Study
By Lisa Kokin
El Sobrante, California: Lisa Kokin, 2022. One-of-a-Kind.

7.25 x 6". Materials: Patinated copper, thread, safety pins, mull, silk. Signed on the back in upper left rectangle.

Lisa Kokin: "Part of my ‘Wordless Library’ series, this book has text made with manipulated safety pins.”

Each character fashioned from a safety pin is up to the viewer to interpret. Asemic writing? Hieroglyphs? Codes? A new language?
$1,500

Character Study book
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Ruled
By Lisa Kokin
El Sobrante, California: Lisa Kokin, 2021. One-of-a-Kind.

8 x 6.5 x 1.5"; 12 leaves plus front and back covers. Materials: aluminum, wire. Bound with wire through reinforced holes in the edges of the leaves. Initialed and dated by the artist.

Lisa Kokin: "Part of my 'Wordless Library' series, this book has unreadable 'text' made by puncturing the aluminum with a sewing machine without thread."

The twelve leaves produce two text pages. The artist’s punctures are made to the recto side of the aluminum sheet producing another image of the punctures on the verso. It is much along the lines of blind embossing.

Kokin says “I am intrigued by text based work that uses asemic text, which is something that looks like text but isn’t made up of actual words.”
$2,800

Ruled book
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Lisa Kokin SOLD / Out of Print Titles:  
   

Litany
By Lisa Kokin
El Sobrante, California: Lisa Kokin, 1994. One-of-a-Kind.

42 sheets plus one around cardboard cylinder. Image transfers on paper towels. Materials: paper towels, thread, metal holder. Paper towel pages reinforced at perforations. Signed on the back of the first paper towel.

Lisa Kokin: "Images from widely distributed postcards of missing children and parents that I collected and paired with statements beginning with 'I' in shorthand.”

“At the time I made the piece I was interested in pushing the form of the book into many different directions. Since the postcards arrived in everyone's mailboxes [1990’s] , they became part of the household, a common object. I thought that using a paper towel roll as a book paired nicely with that idea conceptually.”

Kokin matched the images with the text in a spontaneous way, trying not to overthink but to work from that intuitive place. The images on the postcards were haunting and always printed in blue thus her use of the color blue for the images and text.

These post card campaigns were an early form of the amber alert. There are so many more resources available today than in the 90s – at that time to draw attention to the missing there were postcards and milk cartons.
(SOLD)

Litany book
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Page last update: 02.03.2024

 

   
                                                         
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