Something Old, Something New: Orly Cogan’s Unique Textile Art

Orly Cogan’s life revolves around hand stitching, feminism, and motherhood – all of which are found in her empowering textile art. Born in Israel and educated at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in NYC and The Maryland Institute College of Art, Cogan has been at the forefront of the fiber arts movement with an emphasis on feminism in contemporary art.

Much of her work concerns subjects like fertility, power plays in relationships, self-image, isolation, vulnerability, and beauty in the mundane. “The fabric becomes the foundation for a fantastical exploration,” she explains on her website. “Through my own hand stitching, I update the content of the vintage embroidery to incorporate the unladylike reality and wit of contemporary women; their struggles and the stereotypes which must now be overcome. These struggles are in all probability very different from those of the earlier generation of women who originally embroidered the textiles to ‘feminize’ their homes.”

Cogan doesn’t only embroider original works of her own but collects vintage fabrics, as well as found embroideries made by women of previous eras. With 20 years of collecting, Cogan has accumulated quite a sizeable collection of fabrics. These provide the basis of her work. As such, Cogan acts as a collaborator, modernizing the traditional work and altering its original purpose.

The end result is a combination of the old and the new; the traditional and the modern. Here are some highlights from her Instagram page: