The Vanessa German: Citizen Artist Opening

Published On January 8, 2014 | By Sweet1Lani | The Arts
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1488987_10201325389439985_485616331_n-1If you have never had the pleasure of meeting or experiencing the powerful energy of local artist, poet, and activist Vanessa German, then you must attend her opening at Concept Art Gallery for her Citizen Artist exhibition. Once again, German does not disappoint. She has reached national critical acclaim with her sculpture/ performance/ installation pieces, often using found items and highlighting racial injustices. Experiencing one of her “spoken word operas” is mesmerizing. It’s her presence that feels most impactful. She exudes artistic expression. She also founded love front porch, a community project dedicated to overcoming violence in her community of Homewood with love and the healing power of art. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt project that offers children and adults alike a safe, creative environment to express themselves while raising awareness.

3_1-329x500Her newest multimedia exhibition opens on January 9th from 6-8pm. Like much of her work it features sculptures made of found objects, cast-off baby dolls, old furniture, seashells, fabric, paint, tar, slogans and old signage that speak to the history of her race and gender. She says, “As a sculptor, I always work on the things that I love, create things that rise out of that place of ethnic clarity for me. German has once again delivered on all levels of creating a bold, thoughtful statement through her African Folk Art aesthetic.

Of course, Ms. German couldn’t just display her sculptures in a gallery, so there is also a performance element to the show. On Saturday, January 11th at 2pm she will be leading a procession from her neighborhood of Homewood to the gallery in Regent Square, carrying with her the last piece of the exhibition. The sculpture, a “prayer and wish power figure”, titled ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident’ will be adorned with wishes and prayers from her community, typed up, swaddled in cloth, then dipped in plaster and gold leaf. These pods are recurring throughout the exhibit, referred to as “Homewood Beads” which are also infused with seeds that have fallen from trees in her neighborhood. Throughout the run of the exhibition, guests will be encouraged to add their own prayers and wishes to the piece. After the procession she’ll perform a spoken word piece at the gallery.

Concept Art Gallery had this to say about the show, “Her sculptures speak of the African American experience in America, urban life, racial profiling and the myth of the American melting pot. These sculptures operate on so many levels, both overt and subconscious that seeing her work is an illuminating experience. This exhibition is one of our most exciting in over 40 years as a gallery and we are thrilled to be able to share it with Pittsburgh.”

We suggest you take the opportunity to meet this powerful artist during the opening or procession, but if you are unable to attend, the show will be on up until February 8th.

Check out her artist statement for the show below:

Citizen Artist Statement
or, the good citizen, or,an illustrated history of the United States of America, or, i am not safe here, am i? or, the physical, psychological analysis of the people’s living history of these _______States of America, or, how i got over, or the African Guide to Dancing on Rivers, or, 21st Century tactical survival guide for —–people and the people who love them, or, how to keep from being killed on a city street corner, or, i made the future by hand, or, a catalog of treasures from the library of tar baby, or, making medicine, or, i am not safe here, am i?,or, tactical, material survival in the age of _______,or, please do not shoot me if i show up on your doorstep after a car accident looking for some help,or, what i have done instead of disappearing, or, sometimes i want to kill you, or, make nice!,or, how come that man in Detroit shot and killed that —— woman, and all she did was be —–, or, i am not safe here, am i? or, sometimes i die inside and then i am resurrected,or, leon russel, or, oscar grant, or god forbid, or,______ , or, —– romance, or, __________, or, everything, everything, everything, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

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