vanessa german in her exhibition MATRIX 174/i come to do violence to the lie (2016) at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT. Photo by Allen Phillips/Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

vanessa german joins Kasmin

Kasmin is thrilled to announce 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 artist’s 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 german’s work with Art Basel OVR: Portals, on view online from June 16–19 with works on view at the gallery’s High Line Nine space by appointment from June 15. This inaugural edition of Art Basel’s Portals platform focuses on artistic practices that interrogate the parameters that have shaped our contemporary condition, both through current and historical lenses.

vanessa german, January 17, 1991. (The Day that the First Iraq War Started.), 2021, mixed-media assemblage, 82 x 32 x 31 inches, 208.28 x 81.28 x 78.74 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
vanessa german, January 17, 1991. (The Day that the First Iraq War Started.), 2021, mixed-media assemblage, 82 x 32 x 31 inches, 208.28 x 81.28 x 78.74 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
vanessa german leads The Blue Walk in Pittsburgh, PA, 2021. Copyright ©, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2021, all rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.
vanessa german leads The Blue Walk in Pittsburgh, PA, 2021. Copyright ©, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2021, all rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.

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, german’s 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 german’s work to postulate powerful narratives of freedom and love.

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