Mixed Media self-help books and thread.
61 x 56
Lisa Kokin alters books, text and memory by a complex system of destruction and preservation. There is as much meaning in what has been taken away as in what remains. Through her process of artmaking, Lisa is able to explore cultural and personal issues of conformity and gender, the ambiguities of society and the behavior of humans. Her aesthetic in these meanderings is consistently refined and appealing. The look and feel of books, papers, texts and photographs blend to form a unified structure, whole unto itself even before you begin to mine it for the rich content contained within.
Books have played a major role in Lisa's work; she returns to them between bodies of work and as bodies of work in and of themselves. In her previous series, she literally reshaped the content of selected old books by making papier mache balls, organ-like objects and cubes out of the shredded pages, then sews the contents back inside and outside of the original book covers. Bits and pieces of the original text remain, although the literal meaning is lost. The covers can no longer contain their unruly "text," and form defines content.
In the Panacea Plus series, there is meaning in the process itself. Covers of self-help books are meticulously removed from their boards, cut into small intricate pieces and sewn together. Some cascade down like leaves. Others swirl in a lacy spiral of colorful flowers. Others become a patchwork quilt made from our endless efforts to find solutions to everything that ails us. Ironically, it is not the books themselves, (Kokin has often remarked that the used ones she finds appear for the most part to be unread) that offers solace and transformation. It is the process of artmaking that spins dread and dissatisfaction into something whole and visually satisfying.
Lisa Kokin received her BFA and MFA from the California College of the Arts.
Click here to read essay from Lisa Kokin's exhibition, Panacea Plus..