Bay Area artist repurposes books to create art

January 7, 2011 11:13:04 AM PST
A Bay Area artist has gained international acclaim for her work with books. But, not for writing them, but tearing them up to produce something entirely new and possibly more educational.

Internationally renowned artist Lisa Kokin's art has something beautiful for the eye, and as you get closer - something for the mind. At her Panacea Plus exhibit at the Donna Seager Gallery in San Rafael, all the materials, so painstakingly assembled and sewn together were once part of self help books.

"It's this notion that we're not okay the way we are. And if we buy this book, and spend $19.95 and read the whole thing in ten days or less - we'll be transformed in one way or another," said Kokin.

Kokin calls her work an investigation; just like her first bookwork 20 years ago while a graduate student at the California College of the Arts. Back then she was investigating herself.

"I made my first book to tell a very personal story; about my life, and about growing up Jewish, and about the influence of the holocaust, and my personal history, and about wanting to have a nose job - wanting to look like a Barbie doll, and a lot feminist assimilation kind of issues and I realized it was a great form to tell a story," said Kokin.

She gets self help books from recycling centers, friends and fans and breaks down the books in a variety of ways - sometimes with an exacto knife, sometimes with a blender. A rock creation used to be a book on how women can make big bucks in the real estate market.

Her exhibit at the Seager Gallery has been extended through January 15.

"With her there is this intense craftsmanship and attention to detail and materials with layers and layers of meaning in her work," said art gallery owner Donna Seager.

Now if you want to try making this type of art yourself, Kokin offers workshops in her El Sobrante studio.

"I teach people how to do bad things to books," said Kokin.

Kokin tells students to BYOB - bring your own blender.