We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah Korican and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Leah, how do you think about risk?
Call it what you will; risk-averse, sensitive, anxious, neurotic, I am not a big risk-taker. What seems easy peasy to others can feel like a huge risk to me. I will not be jumping off a giant rock into a lake or getting a spontaneous tattoo. I like repetition, routine, and the familiar. Perhaps this comes from a chaotic childhood, a legacy of refugee parents who fled the Holocaust, or anxiety hardwired in my Ashkenazi genes.

However, in the studio, I feel my pulse race as I cut into the surface of the paper with a sharp knife. Each cut is a subtraction that can’t be undone. Some pieces take months and the slip of a finger could be fatal to the artwork emerging on the table. Each decision to cut is final, a step into the unknown. Unlike a pencil mark which can be erased or a brushstroke which I can paint over a cut into the surface is an irrevocable decision, a risk that feels both terrifying and exhilarating. A finished piece is made up of hundreds or even thousands of risks. When I see my work on a wall I see the accumulation of these risks and feel as alive as if I had taken that leap into a lake.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I began as a painter, making large, figurative expressive works. Over the years my work has shifted and changed. I became more interested in creating work that interacts with the environment and is affected by the light and air currents of a particular place. In response to a site, a place with unique light, shadow, and breezes, I create large-scale cutouts which create an unexpected transformation of the quotidian experience. The iridescent shimmer of the surfaces and the interplay of light and shadow provide an opportunity for the viewer to experience wonder as they wander through. The imagery I use often references women’s handwork including doilies and braids, bringing attention to the meditative and healing aspects of repetitive and decorative practice. The work plays with perception, layers of surfaces, cut-outs, shadows, all overlay each other and create a visual experience that is both soothing and exhilarating. Materials used include lightweight but durable materials like tyvek and graphic film, painted with acrylic paint, and handcut with an exacto knife. The final product is both optically complex and contemplative.

In addition to creating visual art, I also write poetry and often include poetry readings in my public events. As a daydreamer, I think people need spaces of non-linear time, spaces of wonder, and imagination. I hope my work creates opportunities for viewers to open to their bigger vision.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oakland is such a wonderful place to visit. I would definitely take them to see the local art scene. Twenty-fifth street is full of great galleries; Mercury20, Slate, andThe Fourth Wall are some of my favorites on the street, and on a First Friday there are food trucks and music. West Grand Avenue has Transmission and Gearbox which always have interesting shows and on Telegraph Johannson Project features really interesting art . I love to walk in the Town. A walk around Lake Merritt is a must for both bird and people watching. While we are there we can visit the farmer’s market or get a snack at worker-owned, Arizmendi Bakery on Lakeshore. Up in the hills, there are beautiful walks in the redwoods with views of the Bay. II am always amazed our city has such incredible natural beauty. At night, a concert at the Fox or the Paramount gives an opportunity to enjoy the Art Deco architecture along with some music or comedy.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My artist friends and community are incredible! I have a small group of artists with whom I meet monthly for support, brainstorming, and encouragement. The GOTA (Get Out the Art) group includes printmakers, painters, glass artists, and sculptors. We support each other and encourage finding opportunities to get our work out their. Over the years, we have grown closer and it is exciting to see each other’s growth creative process.

Website: www.leahkorican.com

Instagram: @leahkorican

Twitter: @lkorican

Image Credits
Susan Freundlich, Christopher Wormald

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.