Orly Cogan was born in Jaffa, Israel in 1971. She lives and works in New York City. She was educated at The Cooper Union for Advancement of Science & Art and The Maryland Institute College of Art.
Cogan has had solo exhibitions with galleries such as Steven Wolf Fine Art in San Fransisco, Byron Cohen Gallery in Kansas City and Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago. She has been in many group shows at venues such as Caren Golden Gallery, Feigen Contemporary, Allston Skirt Gallery, Projects Gallery, Irvine Contemporary, LFL Gallery (Zack Feuer), and The Dorsky Space, to name a few.
Cogan has recently exhibited site specific installations at The Jersey City Museum of Art, The Riverside Museum of Art in California, and The Hudson River Museum in New York.
Her work has been reviewed in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Chicago Sun Times, Art In America, Art News, Interior Design, Elle, Miami Times, W Magazine, Surface Design, The Reader, Fiber Arts, Contemporary Magazine, Animal Magazine, Time Out Chicago, New York, and Tema Celeste.
Feminist Artist Statement
My work is an irreverent take on the conventions of femininity: I stitch figures on dainty vintage fabrics. These found linens, which at one time—in a more modest age—served as table runners, bureau scarves and tablecloths, had already been embroidered by an earlier and more circumscribed generation of women.
My art deals with history, tradition, mythology, fairy tales, nature, humor, irony, and intimacy. I create a dialogue using the vintage fabrics as two-way mirrors into the like-minded fantasies of competing generations. I add to these a layer of attitude (such as hand-sewn thick pubic hair), which updates what was once considered an old-fashioned womanly craft with a kind of happy-go-lucky postmodern perversity. The fabric becomes the foundation for a fantastical, exotic dialogue between the old and the new.
My figures, often female heroines, allude to their anxieties, insecurities, vanities and desires through visual narratives. These narratives have both a tactile and symbolic presence, transforming “women’s work” into something beautiful, evocative and unexpected. Most of the figures are characters from my life. My fiance, my parents and my friends mingle with storybook characters, creating a kind of public intimacy. I cheerfully mix things up, collapsing time and history as the past combines with the present. By co-opting the labors of some earnest homemaker from an earlier era, I honor her handiwork as I incorporate it into the blithe frolics of the 21st century. I am drawn to dichotomies such as soft and tough, fantasy and reality, especially as they relate to gender.
My work explores common feminine archetypes and stereotypes such as the Madonna/Whore 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. In the process I strive to inspire certain questions: What role do women want to play in society? What kinds of relationships do we want to share? Who are our role models?
In my work I hope to ask all of this within the context of the constantly shifting boundaries that define our relationships and our identities.
—Orly Cogan, 2006 (with select passages written by Margaret Hawkins and Michael Kisner)