Vanessa will be discussing her visual and performance work and how it contends with the power and fragility of the human spirit. She grew up surrounded by Africans, Koreans, white folks, Mexican folks, strange folks, gay folks, sights, sounds, and scents according the ever-fabled melting pot. She also grew up at the foot of AIDS and gang violence, churches, co-ops, street vendors, house fires, and street music, from hip hop to meringue, every facet still found fibrous and illuminated in her story.
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 and folk art traditions.