NEW YORK, NY.- Kasmin
announced the representation of vanessa german (b. 1976, Milwaukee).
german is a self-taught citizen artist working across sculpture, performance, communal rituals, immersive installation, and photography, in order to repair and reshape disrupted systems, spaces, and connections. The artists practice proposes new models for social healing, utilizing creativity and tenderness as vital forces to reckon with the historical and ongoing catastrophes of structural racism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, resource extraction, and misogynoir.
To celebrate the announcement, the gallery will premier a presentation of germans work with Art Basel OVR: Portals, on view online from June 1619 with works on view at the gallerys High Line Nine space by appointment from June 15. This inaugural edition of Art Basels Portals platform focuses on artistic practices that interrogate the parameters that have shaped our contemporary condition, both through current and historical lenses.
A visual storyteller, german utilizes assemblage and mixed media, combining locally found objects to build protective ritualistic structures known as her power figures or tar babies. Modeled on Congolese Nkisi sculptures and drawing on folk art practices, they are embellished with materials including beading, glass, fabric, and sculpted wood, and come into existence at the axis on which Black power, spirituality, mysticism and feminism converge.
Based in Homewood, Pittsburgh, germans artistic practice is intertwined with and inextricable from her dedicated role in activism and community leadership. In 2011, german founded the Love Front Porch, an arts initiative for the women, children, and families of the local neighborhood that began after she moved her studio practice onto the front steps of her home. Three years later, in 2014, german opened the ARThouse, which combines a community studio, a large garden, an outdoor theatre, and an artist residency.
Upholding artmaking as an act of restorative justice, german confronts and begins to dismantle the emotional and spiritual weight imposed by the multi-generational oppression of African American communities. As a queer Black woman living in the United States, german has described this as a deeply necessary process of adventuring into the wild freedom that the inhabitation of such identities demands. This activist instinct emerges in germans work to postulate powerful narratives of freedom and love.
Recent performance works include The Blue Walk, a new ceremonial ritual that brings the voices of Black communities together with intentionality to create a space where healing from trauma is possible. german has described the 2.5 mile procession as calling in the thundering wholeness of Black bodies on this land. The Blue Walk has previously been staged at the Fralin Museum, University of Virginia, and in Pittsburgh. A third iteration will be performed in Baltimore in late summer 2021.
Currently on view at The Frick Pittsburgh is germans Nothing can separate you from the language you cry in: Reckoning: Grief and Light, an immersive installation and multi-sensory experience consisting of three altarpieces representing elegies to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah McClain, as well as the countless other African American lives lost without justice. Envisioned as "reckoning works'' and "ingredients of social healing," the installation includes musical selections written by Dr. Edda Fields Black (libretto) and John Wineglass (original score) from Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice. This contemporary classical symphonic work draws on the history of Africans enslaved on Lowcountry South Carolina and Georgia rice plantations. Reckoning: Grief and Light speaks to the potential for museums and other institutions to become sites of change. In 2023, the museum will stage a retrospective featuring work spanning germans 25 years in Pittsburgh.
german has been awarded the 2015 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, the 2017 Jacob Lawrence Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2018 United States Artist Grant and, most recently, the 2018 Don Tyson Prize from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. german joins Kasmin after working with Pavel Zoubok Fine Art, now private dealers, for the past ten years.
Her work is held in private and public collections including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the West Virginia University Museum, Everson Museum of Art, Figge Art Museum, Flint Institute of Arts, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, David C. Driskell Center, Snite Museum of Art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College. Germans fine art work has been exhibited widely, most recently at the Figge Art Museum, The Union for Contemporary Art, The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Flint Institute of Arts, Mattress Factory, Everson Museum of Art, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Studio Museum, Ringling Museum of Art and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Her work has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPRs All Things Considered and in The Huffington Post, O Magazine and Essence Magazine.