Kelsey Birsa

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Tue, 06/14/2022 - 11:30am to 12:00pm
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Kelsey Birsa's Living Room at Blackfish Gallery

On Tuesday, June 14, 2022, Joseph Gallivan interviews Kelsey Birsa about her show Living Room which is on through July 2 at Blackfish Gallery in the Pearl District. Birsa talks about painting from photos and screen grabs during the pandemic, her rediscovery of camping, and why she painted Blackfish’s smaller gallery to look like it has orange flock wallpaper.  

Birsa teaches how to capture fabric, feathers and fur in oil painting at the Oregon Society of Artists, and in this show mixes portraits with landscape. She combines realism and impressionism in her paintings as a way to emphasize the dissociative quality of the lockdown/virtual life.    


This interview was recorded on a Zoom H2N recorder on June 8, 2022, without masks, in person and edited by KBOO volunteer Ray Bodwell.

From the press release:


Artist Statement: Kelsey Birsa uses detailed rendering and abstract marks to explore everyday moments of her communities. She combines traditional oil painting techniques with the contemporary use of mixed media to reflect on the human experience and the desire to feel connected. In the current exhibition, ‘Living Room’, Birsa employs interior design elements like furniture and a hand painted mural to set a domestic environment that contrasts with the exterior scenes in her paintings. To help counteract feelings of anxiety and depression that the pandemic has created in herself and many others, Birsa spent much of the past two years outdoors. She then painted scenes from camping with her friends and family around the stunning Oregon landscape. The hand painted mural background features iconic northwest plants like ferns, salal, and thimbleberries. Experiencing the outdoors, such as foraging the plants depicted in the mural, has become one of the few social interactions that felt safe and normal during the pandemic. BIO Kelsey Birsa is a painter and a muralist living in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been exhibited at the Blackfish Gallery, Art At The CAVE, Gallery 360, North Bank Artist Gallery and published in the Columbian, Beacon Magazine, Pathos, and The Artist Magazine. She has received awards such as Best in Show at the Society of Washington Artists, The Artist Magazine Student Portrait Competition and first place at Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. Birsa holds a BFA in Art Practices from Portland State University. @kelseybirsa




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Joseph Gallivan has been a reporter since 1990. He has covered music for the London Independent, Technology for the New York Post, and arts and culture for the Portland Tribune, where he is currently a Feature Writer. He is the author of two novels, "Oi, Ref!" and "England All Over" which are available on 

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