Given her first sewing machine at the age of 9, Lisa Kokin has been sewing anything and everything for decades – not just fabric but wood and metal too. We meet the artist herself, and discover what makes her tick.
“I like to challenge myself and once I have made enough pieces to have figured out what I need to figure out, I move on to another challenge”
Your work is exciting, interesting and innovative; where do you draw inspiration from?
“Sometimes I will get an idea from the materials and sometimes I have an idea and find the materials to support the idea. It works both ways and I like it that way. For example, my series of thread works that were in Raveling, my solo show at Seager Gray Gallery in 2012, drew their inspiration from the death of my mother. I had been working in thread and I continued to work with that material, although in a slightly different way, incorporating text that had to do with my mother’s last days.
“The ‘Lace Cowboy’ series came about because one day at the recycling center I found dozens of pulped cowboy novels. I began making horticulturally-inspired pieces from the covers and pages of the novels. The horticultural imagery came from our move in 2009 to a semi-rural area of El Sobrante.
“I was not initially drawn to the cowboy books because the imagery was repugnant to me. I grew to like them for their potential to make a commentary on guns and violence in American society. After using the books themselves to make a series of work, I decided to make cowboys from lace and other “feminine” types of materials. I wanted to present a paradox: images of gun slinging cowboys made out of ephemeral and traditionally feminine materials, shooting guns which, alas, are loaded only with flowers.”