Self-Portraits in the Age of Selfies

January 10–February 9, 2019 | Open Thursday-Saturday, 12-5pm
Mercury 20, 475 25th Street, Oakland, (510) 701-4620
between Telegraph & Broadway
Artists Reception: Saturday, January 19, 4-6pm
First Friday Art Murmur: February 1, 5-9pm

Self-Portraits in the Age of Selfies at Mercury 20, January 9–February 9, 2019

What are we to make of artistic self-portraits in the age of the selfie? The once rare self-portrait has become commonplace. Is there any special significance left in making self-portraits? This exhibition explores these questions and others through painting, sculpture, installation and photography.

Jo Ann Biagini, Nick Dong, Carlo Fantin, P.K. Frizzell, Andrew Miguel Fuller, Pantea Karimi, Kathleen King, Sara Lisch, Jill McLennan, Charlie Milgrim, Johanna Poethig, Mary Curtis Ratcliff, Fernando Reyes, Neo Serafimidis, Elizabeth Sher, in collaboration with: Carol Benioff, Brooke Holve, Marilyn Levin, Linda MacDonald, Bonnie Neumann, Jeannie O’Connor, Vickie Jo Sowell and M. Louise Stanley, Ruth Tabancay, Leah Virsik

Leah Virsik Loveworn, 2017–19, a favorite sweater of the artist, dustpan. Photo: Mary Curtis Ratcliff

Pinned away from the wall, black strips of decayed material are loosely knitted together, forming a long narrow tapestry with gaping holes. Worn out, the fabric hangs by mere threads and tiny bits of material form a small pile in a dustpan on the floor.

Originally, this was a favorite sweater of mine, one I wore beyond its useful life. I remember buying the pullover in an upscale boutique but later upon looking at the tag, I discovered it was actually from J. Jill. Slightly surprised that I had conflated multiple experiences, I realize that my memory, like this material, is also subject to erosion over time.

Pipe Dreams

City College of San Francisco Art Gallery
August 27–September 26, 2018
Reception, Thursday, September 6, 2018 | 5:30–7:30 pm

Leah Virsik, Pipe Dreams, City College of San Francisco Art Gallery installation view

Multiple capped pipes stick out of a wall of the City College of San Francisco Art Gallery. Painted in a effort to blend into the white walls, these pipes no longer serve their original purpose and speak of rejection, restriction and unrealized potential. How might I honor these aborted conduits by means of material extension and offer them support and encouragement to dream?

Leah Virsik, Pipe Dreams, City College of San Francisco Art Gallery installation view

Awkward and unwieldy, The Rub represents a difficulty or obstacle. The title is  inspired by Hamlet’s soliloquy: Hamlet, Act III, Scene I excerpt (To be, or not to be): 

To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

~William Shakespeare

Leah Virsik, Reverie, 2018, the artist’s leftover pieces of conduit, gold metallic paint, pillows, pillowcases, hardware, scrap of Disney Princess bedsheet, chopstick

Reverie is inspired by the joy I had of experiencing conduits sounding like wind chimes. From further away the gold color elevates the pipes and is a metaphor for success. At a closer distance, the shoddy paint job is a reminder that success isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. The pillows hold the offering of a stick to hit the pipes against each other to experience life’s simple joys in this moment.

Feather River Art Camp Summer 2019

I’m looking to another wonderful summer teaching a week long book arts class at Feather River Art Camp: June 9–16, 2019. Come join me!

Exploring Material and Metaphor in the Artist Book
Susan Stewart, in On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, writes that “The metaphors of the book are metaphors of containment, of exteriority and interiority, of surface and depth, of covering and exposure, of taking apart and putting together.”

Spend a fantastic week creating a variety of book structures. Start with the basics like the simple accordion and the pamphlet stitch. Get inspired by the natural environment, consider the metaphors of the book or collaborate with other campers to create something meaningful for you.

In addition, make a variety of soft and hard cover books with exposed spines including sewing around tapes, long-stitch and a modified Retchōsō binding. These books open flat and have multiple sections making them great for notebooks and sketchbooks.

You’ll have an opportunity to experiment with different materials to make covers: Momigami (kneaded paper that feels like cloth) and fused plastic. These techniques can be used to make alternative things in addition to covers. Additional materials will be available to make multiple versions of the same book to reinforce the techniques. Previous bookbinding experience is helpful, but not required.

Please bring the following materials: bonefolder, bookbinding awl available at: The Caning Shop, self-healing cutting mat, ruler and triangle or ruled square, i.e. Omnigrid, craft knife, i.e.: X-Acto knife with no. 11 blades, scissors, favorite mark-making tools: a pen and/or pencil. $30 materials fee will include a variety of papers, paints, Konnyaku and other supplies.

San Francisco State’s MFA Thesis Exhibition: April 16–May 14, 2016

Please join me for SF State’s MFA Thesis Exhibition April 16–May 14

(From left to right) Featuring the work of Shannon Abac, Kimberley A. Arteche, Nash Bellows and myself.
Click on the image to view the brochure.

SF State’s MFA Thesis Exhibition
MFA Opening Reception
Saturday 16 April | 1-3pm

Campus Opening
Thursday 21 April | 4–6pm

Artist Talks
Thursday 28 April | 12:10–1pm

Fine Arts Building, Fine Arts Gallery: Room 238
1600 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132
SF State campus map

If you can’t make it April 16 and want to come another day, let me know and I may be able to give you a private tour. Regular gallery hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 11am–4pm. SF State is accessible by BART and Muni. Transit info here.

Teaching at Feather River Art Camp: June 19–26, 2016

Feather River Art Camp: June 19–26, 2016

Feather River Art Camp is an amazing place……and the OPPORTUNITY to do what you love for a solid week without interruption. So many classes to enjoy…from painting…to clay…to playing the harp. I’m looking forward to my third year teaching in this magical environment.

I will teach a variety of book structures including folded books from a single sheet of paper and soft cover notebooks and sketchbooks. Some favorites pictured above are the Buttonhole, the Crossed Structure and a modified Secret Belgian binding. Covers will include Momigami (kneaded paper that feels like cloth), fused plastic and painted paper. It’ll be fun! More here.

Day 3: 30-Day Self Portrait


28 April 2015 | 3:45pm | my FA295 studio

  • This project of cutting up denim jeans and sewing them together is eventually going to become unwieldy. I’m trying to figure out how to make that more manageable.
  • I realize in this project I like to have some specific parameters but not too specific an idea of what it’s going to look like at the end. I’m open to possibilities of being something else that I originally imagine.
  • But why work the whole thing at one time? Why not create a bunch of units the same size and then assemble them? Perhaps that be would that be too orderly?
  • I am interested in having people move their position when viewing an object. Or at least I am interested in taking different positions when I look at objects, i.e.: lying on the floor and looking upward. That means I need to create something for the floor and the ceiling. I always appreciated going to the dentist, etc. and looking at images or mobiles up above. I love the ceiling at Johansson Projects.