2020, Above and Below
8 August 2020

Leah Virsik in her studio. Photo: Laura Van Duren

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 betweenness. Jeans, made of cotton and indigo, are deeply rooted in slavery. Through an act of unmaking, I use Japanese shears to dissect and strip (kire) the functionality of clothing, focusing on the material’s meaning. This work speaks of my own complicity in systemic racial injustice. I expose seams from below the surface, cut and assemble individual flies, and roll up balls of jean strips. No longer a castoff, this material is imbued with potentiality and through my process of close examination (ma), it remakes me.

25% of the artist’s proceeds will go to the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Apart at the Seams (2020) jean seams, Singer sewing machine and table $6500

Apart at the Seams, 2020, jean seams, Singer sewing machine and table, 41 x 36 x 22 inches

top row: Eye Level, 2020, 100 jean flies, linen thread, 177 x 10¼ x 1 inches
bottom row: Eye Level of an Average Six Year Old Boy, 2020, 100 jean flies, metal pendant on chain, linen thread, 176 x 9 x 1 inches

top row: Eye Level, 2020, 100 jean flies, linen thread, 177 x 10¼ x 1 inches
bottom row: Eye Level of an Average Six Year Old Boy, 2020, 100 jean flies, metal pendant on chain, linen thread, 176 x 9 x 1 inches

Eye Level (detail), 2020, 100 jean flies, linen thread, 177 x 10¼ x 1 inches

Balled Up, 2020, jeans, chairs, hardware

All Together Now 05, 2020, jean remnants, thread

All Together Now 01, 2020, jean remnants, thread

All Together Now 02, 2020, jean remnants, thread

All Together Now 03, 2020, jean remnants, thread

All Together Now 04, 2020, jean remnants, thread

All Together Now 09, 2020, jean remnants, thread

All Together Now 08, 2020, jean remnants, thread