Artist Statement 2006
I work with vintage, printed fabrics and found embroideries made by women of previous eras. I act as a collaborator, modernizing their traditional work and altering its original purpose. The fabric becomes the foundation for a fantastical, exotic dialogue between the old and the new. My art deals with history, tradition, mythology, nature, relationships and intimacy. The entwinement of contemporary motifs onto these vintage fabrics inspires contrasts and dialogues between the time and consciousness of the original creator and topics that concern us today.
I am drawn to dichotomies, such as soft and tough, dirty and clean, fantasy and reality, especially as they relate to gender. My work explores common feminine archetypes and stereotypes such as Madonna/Whore, Pin-Up Girl, Lolita, and the Femme Fatale. Searching for that odd thing, the Feminist Beauty Queen, I mix subversion with flirtation, humor with power, and intimacy with frivolity, and in doing so I often straddle an ironic edge.
In the process I strive to inspire certain questions: What role do women want to play in society? Who do we want to be? What kind of relationships do we want? Who are our role models? In my work I hope to ask all of this within the context of constantly shifting boundaries that define our relationships and our identities.
Carl Hammer on Orly Cogan
Cogan, who has always been interested in working with and combining multiple mediums, is best known for her unique crafting of hand stitched embroidered figures on top of previously embroidered vintage fabrics. Originally made by women of previous eras, these pieces serve as the foundation for the fantastic and exotic dialogue evolving from her combining the old and the new. Indirectly, she becomes collaborator with the earlier artists by modernizing these traditional works and altering their original purpose.
Cogan’s work deals with history, tradition, mythology, nature, humor, sexuality, relationships and intimacy. The entwinement of contemporary motifs onto these vintage fabrics inspires contrasts and dialogues between the time and consciousness of yesterday’s traditions alongside today’s sensibility.
Recently, the artist has incorporated photography and collage elements into her art-making process. These photo-based pieces provide another vehicle to explore the image in contemporary society as dictated by the mass media. She plays with the way the female image is defined and depicted through fashion and style periodicals all while illustrating the media’s influence on the feminine ideal.
Inherent to her own personality, these works play with the artist’s attraction to the spaces between dichotomies. She explores the extremes of soft and tough, dirty and clean, fantasy and reality, especially as they relate to gender. Her work delves deep into the feminine ideal and mixes subversion with flirtation, humor with power and intimacy with frivolity. The characters in her work are present in the way a child perceives the world: wholehearted, engaged, uninhibited, and reliant on the senses.
Through the work of Orly Cogan, we learn of our seduction. We become aware of and better understand the kinds of frequently shifting boundaries which constantly define and re-define the roles of women. These pieces open our eyes, heighten our awareness, and create new and innovative ways of looking at the female figure.