i am armed. i am an army.
Vanessa German is a Pittsburg-based artist working with the relics of urban decay, combining unexpected and varied objects to form assertive human figures ranging in scale from figurine to child. These figures are clad in wondrous, ponderous garb, that conjures the elaborate costume of a tribal deity or shaman. At times they are displayed as a group of figures who look in the same direction; a confrontational gathering; a peaceful protest. In some cases, they straddle tricycles and scooters, or are mounted upon wooden geese and highchairs, rooting their self-assured presence in the innocence of youth. Carrying the invincibility of magic or divine protection, German's figures seem positioned to intercede between disparaging perspectives, ideologies, and cultures; offering a gesture of understanding, acknowledgment, and healing to those who encounter them.
Vanessa German is a visual and performance artist based in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood. Homewood is the community that is the driving force behind German’s powerful performance work, and whose cast-off relics form the language of her copiously embellished sculptures. As a citizen artist, German explores the power of art and love as a transformative force in the dynamic cultural ecosystem of communities and neighborhoods. She is the founder of Love Front Porch and the ARThouse, a community arts initiative for the children of her historic Homewood neighborhood.
Her work is in private and public collections including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The Progressive Art Collection, David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, Snite Museum of Art, among others. German’s fine art work has been exhibited widely, most recently at the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA; the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT; the Studio Museum, Harlem, NY; the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL; and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR. Her work has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s All Things Considered and in The Huffington Post, O Magazine and Essence Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2015 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant. Vanessa German is represented by Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York.