Vanessa L. German greets you at the front door of her house in Homewood (Pittsburgh) with a warm embrace, a song, and a poem of her own creation. It’s immediately evident that German is a force of nature, and her presence is one of caring and protection in a notoriously difficult area. German creates compelling works that invoke the power to protect children endangered by circumstance and location. Her “power figures” feature accumulations of found objects that decorate black figures she constructs from dolls and imbues with beauty and magic.
German is a vigorous advocate for children in the neighborhood, creating safe spaces for art-making amid violence and danger. In recent years, she has launched Art House, a formerly derelict HUD home that was once the site of violence against children. Here, German hosts dozens of neighborhood children daily to create beauty, build self-esteem, and to offer vantage points beyond their limited circumstances.