The Japanese word for cut, kire, is more connected to aesthetics than its English counterpart. The aim of cutting is to create ma, a word that roughly translates as negative space or betweennes. Through an act of unmaking, Leah Virsik uses shears to dissect and strip the functionality of clothing focusing on the material’s meaning. Denim jeans, made of cotton and indigo, are deeply rooted in slavery and one can’t speak of clothing without acknowledging the human body. This work speaks of the artist’s complicity in systemic racial injustice. She exposes seams from below the surface, cuts and assembles individual flies, and rolls up balls of jean strips. No longer a castoff, this material is imbued with potentiality. Through Virsik’s process of close examination, it remakes her.
Leah Virsik is an artist based in Oakland, California. Her work is primarily driven by materials and includes collage, sculptural fiber and book arts. She received her Masters of Fine Arts degree from San Francisco State University. Her work has been exhibited at City College of San Francisco Art Gallery, PhotoCentral Gallery and galleryFritz in Santa Fe. She teaches book arts and collage.
Leah Virsik’s work is available for purchase in Mercury 20’s online shop.
Balled Up, (2020), found pieces of denim