James Barron Art is proud to exhibit the work of Vanessa German, who is creating some of the most compelling work of any contemporary artist today dealing with race and racism. German is a mixed-media sculptor, poet, activist and performer who was raised in Los Angeles and lives in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, a historic black neighborhood where hope is thriving in the face of institutionalized racism, income inequality, gentrification and gun violence. Her intricately wrought assemblages speak of love, hope and the power of collective struggle against injustice. Her power figures are seers, protectors, messengers, and the visible manifestation of kindness in the face of cruelty.
Her spoken-word performance art, influenced heavily by hip-hop, opera and the long tradition of Negro spirituals, calls attention to the epidemic of racially charged violence and advocates for compassion and empathy in daily life. Similarly, German’s sculptural work blends spirituality, ritual, and cultural history. Her power figures stand as physical expressions of the power of love and creativity; they honor the role of women and girls throughout many cultures as warriors against violence and racial and gender inequality. These enigmatic figures are at once observers, gatherers and keepers of the family secrets. The intricate assemblages incorporate found objects, many of which come from German's own Homewood neighborhood.
The Los Angeles Times described German's sculptures:
As in the Central African tradition of nkisi, these are power figures composed of empowered objects and intended to heal, protect and ward off evil. They stand on platforms made of skateboards and concrete blocks, as if specially designed to combat the particular perils of contemporary urban life.
As a citizen artist, German explores the power of art and love as a transformative force in the erratic cultural environment of communities and neighborhoods. She is the founder of Love Front Porch and the ARThouse, a community arts initiative for the children of Homewood. Recently recognized as the 2018 recipient of the Don Tyson Prize, the majority of German’s $200,000 grant is going toward opening a Museum of Resilience to honor the neighborhood's large population of black single mothers.
German's work is in private and public collections including Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, 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, among others.
Her sculptures have been exhibited at the Mattress Factory, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Studio Museum, Ringling Museum of Art and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. She has also been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR's All Things Considered and in The Huffington Post, O Magazine and Essence Magazine.
This exhibition is in participation with Pavel Zoubok Fine Art. We would like to thank Pavel Zoubok and Kris Nuzzi for their invaluable role in organizing this exhibition.
Gallery hours: Thursday – Sunday 12 – 4 & by appointment