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Lisa Kokin


B. 1954

As the daughter of upholsterers, Lisa Kokin spent a childhood surrounded by textiles, needles, and thread. Today, she continues to stitch “everything she can her hands on,” as she explains, recycling used materials like books, buttons, and photographs into reclaimed and re-envisioned objects. Her delicate artworks explore themes of family, memory, storytelling, and current sociopolitical realities. Her work is often infused with humor, which is, as Kokin states, “the age-old Jewish response to adversity.” Take, for example, the title of her pieces, Let Them Eat Cake, the long-rumored infamous quote attributed to 18th Century French monarch Marie-Antoinette. Her supposed response to starving peasants who could not afford bread, let alone cake, drew outrage from her subjects. Clearly, Marie-Antoinette could not relate to the constraints imposed by money – an abstract concept that can both nothing and everything.

Kokin created her work Cultural Currency on her sewing machine using a water-soluble stabilizer, allowing her to glide over the small bits of paper. After stitching the paper, she washed the stabilizer off and stiffened the piece with archival book-making materials. When asked why she chose to work with cut currency, she stated, “I like money in its shredded state because it is stripped of value and power. Worthless, it becomes just so much green and white confetti. It is literally not worth the paper it’s printed on. As I separate each strip or geometric shred, the patterns, letters, numbers, and gradations of color are more striking than when the bills are intact: Washington’s heavy-lidded eyes, references to higher powers, cryptic serial numbers, seals and signatures, scrolls and flourishes. When sliced up and decontextualized, U.S. currency is quite mysterious and beautiful. No one values money in this impotent state. It can no longer poison relationships, threaten democracy, topple governments, or create privilege and misery. Stitched together with metallic thread into forms resembling textile fragments, or in geometric or curvilinear configurations, these tiny fragments of paper acquire a new value and meaning.”

Originally from the East Coast, Kokin moved to the Bay Area to attend art school and never looked back. She received her BFA and MFA from the California College of the Arts in Oakland and currently lives in El Sobrante, California, with her spouse, the photographer Lia Roozendaal. Kokin has received multiple awards and commissions, including a Eureka Fellowship, a WESTAF/NEA Regional Fellowship, and the Dorothy Saxe Invitational Award for Creativity in Contemporary Arts, among others. Her work is in numerous private and public collections, including the Boise Art Museum, the Oakland Museum of California, the Buchenwald Memorial (Germany), the di Rosa Preserve, Mills College, Yale University Art Museum, the University of Washington, Rutgers University, Kaiser Permanente, and Tiffany & Co.


Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum strives to be one of the finest visual arts museums in the Carolinas. With 11 galleries that change throughout the year, Myrtle Beach’s only art museum offers exhibitions featuring paintings, textiles, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, assemblage, collage and more. A visit to the Art Museum’s exhibitions can be enhanced by its lively programming, including artist receptions, tours, lectures, workshops and classes for both adults and children.