Lisa Kokin – Art with Found Materials

Craft & Design
Lisa Kokin – Art with Found Materials

We are highly inspired by Lisa Kokin’s art work created from found materials such as photographs, buttons, books, old toys, and more. The pieces are all about memory and history, many using stitching techniques on items which are not normally sewn. Kokin describes her style, “My work has always had an obsessive quality and this body of work is no exception. Every button is stitched to its neighbor to form a low-tech pixilated composition. Up close each piece is an abstract mélange of colors and shapes; the further back one stands the more decipherable the image becomes. This interplay between abstraction and representation intrigues me. It is as though I am painting with buttons, building my palette as I go along, adding and subtracting until the interplay of colors and forms coalesces into a coherent image.


Buttons and mixed media, imitation sinew, waxed linen, chicken wire
41 X 29-1/2, 2004

My parents were upholsterers and my earliest memories are of playing in their shop with piles of vinyl and foam rubber. I have sewn since I was a child and the stitch plays a major role in my work, so it was natural to join the buttons together to form a reconstructed family portrait.


Mixed media sculpture, 10-1/2 x 8-1/2 x 5-1/2, 1995

Much of my sculpture involves stitching objects which are normally not sewn such as toy ovens or ironing boards. For two generations my family made a living with needle and thread, my grandmother sewing ties, my parents dinette sets and boat cushions. They’ve covered the traditional territory; I am fascinated by the thought of sewing what is not normally sewn.


Best Wishes
Sewn found photographs, batting, paper, 96 x 72, 2001

I am intrigued with other people’s photographic recording of their lives both for the generic quality they possess — the family and social rituals, studio portraits, vacation shots — and for the feeling of sadness and nostalgia that acquiring other people’s memories provokes in me. I feel somehow that it should be illegal to own them, yet since they are for sale it might as well be me who buys them.


Two Stories About Home
Mixed media artist’s book/sculpture, 8-1/2 x 15 x 5, 1992

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.

If you would like more information on Lisa Kokin’s artwork and her art classes, please visit

Thank you Lisa for letting us showcase your beautiful artwork!

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.