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Currently Speaking: vanessa german

Thursday, September 28, 2023


2 images side-by-side. The left image is a blurred photo of a waterfall by Catherine Opie. The 2nd is a closeup of a woman with long dark blonde hair smiling and looking directly at the camera with greenery in the background.

Photography by AJ Mitchell Image courtesy Kasmin.

In Conversation: Exhibiting artist vanessa german with curator Rachel Moore

Topics of conversation will include the works on exhibit in A Place of Memory, german's Power Figures, Transforming Materials, Activating Objects used in her artwork, and inspiring the viewer to follow a path of curiosity.

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.

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. 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.

In 2022, german was awarded the Heinz Award for the Arts. Other awards include the Don Tyson Prize from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the United States Artist Grant in 2018, the Jacob Lawrence Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2017, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant in 2015. Her work has been exhibited at museums across the United States, most recently at the Montclair Art Museum, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, 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. In August 2023, german unveiled a new commission for the exhibition Pulling Together at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The exhibition explores the role of monuments in the telling of American history and marks the first organized group exhibition ever staged in The National Mall.

The Currently Speaking series hosts experts in various contemporary art genres and media to encourage casual discourse and meaningful interactions between our community, speakers, and the art they showcase.

All series events are free to the public with a suggested donation of $10. No reservation is required, and the gallery will be open beforehand for viewing the current exhibition, A Place of Memory. Refreshments will be served.

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