Inside the studio of citizen artist vanessa german, you’ll find prayer beads, doll parts, handmade patterned quilts, skateboards, rope, silk flowers, cowrie shells, coke bottles, vintage porcelain bells, and astroturf. Some of these materials are found in her community, others are sourced from across the country. All find a new life adorning sculptures formed by german from plaster and wood—a type of assemblage that has its lineage in indigenous and West African folk practices, as well as Black Arts movements from 1960s onwards.
german’s first exhibition at Kasmin is titled Sad Rapper, showcasing new freestanding and wall-based sculpture in an installation that confronts urgent social and political themes of racial oppression, structural violence, commemoration, and community. Conceived as a fantastical group portrait of figures from a single neighborhood, the exhibition draws on german’s youth in Los Angeles in the 1980s to expose the complex narratives that both represent and shape Black life and culture in the context of the American dream. This presentation is offered by german as a redemptive space in which visitors are invited to identify, experience, and begin to address the rage and grief engendered by both historic and ongoing racial violence in our society, to which the artist’s humanistic vision responds forcefully and compassionately.
Sad Rapper runs at 509 West 27th Street from September 8–October 22, 2022.
To visit the exhibition’s Online Viewing Room, click here.
Video produced by Frieze Studios. @friezeofficial