Poet, performer, photographer, and sculptor Vanessa German creates works that explore the power of transformation and healing. She scours her Pittsburgh neighborhood searching for objects to incorporate into her art. “I surrender myself to the objects that call up to me,” she has said. Her intricate mixed-media sculptures combine doll parts, antique tins, cowrie shells, household objects, and African beads. With these three-dimensional collages German reclaims objects and words that symbolize the oppression of African Americans for generations, creating serene, if surreal, figures that call to mind religious icons, Congolese minkisi sculpture, folk art traditions, and the work of Betye Saar and Fred Wilson.
German 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 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 in the traveling exhibition State of The Art: Discovering American Art Now, which originated at 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. German is represented by the Concept Gallery in Pittsburg and the Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York.