in Collaborations , Videos | 20 SEP 22

vanessa german's Invite to Inhabit Every Dimension

At Kasmin Gallery, New York, the artist and activist’s exhibition ‘Sad Rapper’ honours healing, rage and the grace of McDonalds

in Collaborations , Videos | 20 SEP 22
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For vanessa german, art is always an opportunity. An opportunity for gathering, processing, and resonating with ‘the frequency of yes’.  The frequency of yes took root in a childhood spent in Los Angeles, taking part in the rituals of her mother’s quilting practice: 'I would watch my mother run her hand over the fabric and get information from that.' This intuitive recognition of the meaning and stories embedded in an object now forms the foundation of german’s sculptural practice. In her studio, we encounter a universe of ‘ingredients’ that share an indescribable feeling, many foraged from the artist’s community, others sourced from places far away. Beyond these ingredients are ‘invisible materials’, the personal experiences and private emotions german knows to be interlaced with the physical work. Noting these elements within final medium descriptions, captions including “beads, buttons, cowrie shells, power in the palms of your own hands, cowboy boots, paint, love, love, love…” add a kind of alchemy to the formality of convention.


Sad Rapper at Kasmin Gallery presents an imaginary neighbourhood of figures affected by racial injustice and oppressive power structures. These characters, often based in the ways blackness is consumed in pop culture, are built up by hand with wood, plaster and fabrics and adorned with diverse found objects including skateboards, thrifted trinkets and astroturf. Referencing folk practices and indigenous crafts, the complexities within german’s contemporary archetypes are made tangible in the making, with the potential for broadening compassion and transcending fear forever present. Defined by the conviction that art can both heal and change, the artist describes 'ask[ing] it to do that work, of broadening the living spectrum of grace'. This grace is not just found in the studio or gallery. Alongside the moments of reflection essential to Sad Rapper, german invites us to recognise 'grace in McDonalds, grace when you’re driving down the freeway.'

vanessa german: Sad Rapper is on view at Kasmin, New York from 8 October to 22nd October 2022. For more information, visit the Kasmin gallery website here