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Threads of Entanglement

Orly Cogan

Hand embroidery typically conjures up images of docile women, silently working on their expected domestic duties through their needle work. This traditionally feminine medium was once seen as an indicator of marriage suitability, teaching ideas of modesty, virtue, and obedience. Artist Orly Cogan reclaims the medium, using vintage fabrics as a foundation for her hand stitched explorations of modern women. Cogan challenges the idea of embroidery being a symbol of female domesticity and injects themes of sensuality, feminism, and power to portray the evolving role of women in society.


Cogan’s love for embroidery stems from her early years in grade school where she would learn to knit and crochet with natural fiber materials. This fondness for the material was also encouraged through her mother's collection of samplers — pieces of embroidered cloth meant to represent a larger whole — and quilts. Cogan describes her work as intuitive, figuring out the stitching as she goes, utilizing an embroidery hoop, appliqué, and paint to bring movement within the stitches. The result is a dreamy and ethereal quality that speaks to the feminist fairytales she creates in her pieces.

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