Each book is a trove of wonders that hold in them worlds, knowledge, history, fantasy, inspiration, and different sorts of beautiful, abstract things. That’s what makes books invaluable—they provide us the satisfaction of experiencing things that are intangible, and that’s what makes them beautiful. But what if that intangible, beautiful, abstract thing is turned into something visual, and tangible? Artist Lisa Kokin, a lover of books and words, will make you see just how more beautiful books can be.

A young artist’s fascination for books

            Lisa Kokin is an artist who uses recycled materials in her artworks. She transforms ordinary items that are bought from flea markets, thrift stores, and that range from buttons to pieces of fabric. With a variety of objects, Kokin sews, weaves, and transforms these ordinary trinkets into artworks.


Her art style is influenced by her parents, which were both upholsterers. Ever since she was a young artist, Kokin was fascinated with her parent’s business. Some of her first pieces of art were books that she had woven together herself.

“I’ve been making books since 1991,” Kokin said in an interview with the Contemporary Jewish Museum. “Many of my early books is about growing up Jewish and childhood memories and the role of sewing in my life. My parents were upholsterers and I played with fabric and vinyl and foam rubber and made stuff…Textiles are kind of like, in my blood.”

Most notable works

            Kokin’s love for words drives her to transform them, and the wonders contained in them, to tangible artworks. One of her best works is an installation art of her late mother’s last words before she passed away in a nursing facility.

            “One of the things she said repeatedly a couple of days before she died was ‘take me home now’. And she kept repeating that like a mantra,” Kokin recalled.

As a tribute to her loving mother, Kokin sewed her mother’s last words with different spools of thread. The artwork is hung in display, and her mother’s mantra is suspended delicately within the threads.

            Kokin is also known for her altered books. She once altered a copy of Mein Kampf that she bought from a local flea market. It took her 10 years to muster the courage to alter the copy of Mein Kampf. And when she did, she cut it off into four different books, each altered, each disguised, so that the original contents of the book were “subverted”, and therefore transforming the book into an entirely different work of art.

“All artists are obsessed”

            Beyond what words can describe, Kokin’s works contain messages that transcend the artwork’s origin. Her works do not just construct the written words, they deconstruct the words again. Kokin’s work focus on environmental preservation, self-help, being Jewish, and life in general.

            “The word ‘obsessive’ is often used to describe my work, and I take it as a complement, because I feel that all artists are obsessed,” Kokin told the Contemporary Jewish Museum. “I mean if you’re not obsessed with your subject, then why bother?”

Photo Attribution:

Featured and 1st courtesy of stockimages /

2nd image courtesy of rakratchada torsap /

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