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Vanessa German

Reckoning: Grief and Light

A powerful installation of new sculpture by Artist-in-Residence Vanessa German, nothing can separate you from the language you cry in presents three stunning altarpieces envisioned as "reckoning works" and "ingredients of social healing." Installed among Italian Renaissance devotional paintings, German’s work offers a compelling meditation on grief, love, and social healing.  

The altarpieces represent an elegy to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and the countless other lives lost without justice. Ornamenting each sculpture are hand-crafted glass objects in a deep cobalt blue, custom-made for German by artisans at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. The cascade of glass evokes a reimagined wailing wall or weeping river, providing a place of reflection.

"This work is personal," German writes. "How do I grieve, mourn the losses of so many Black people killed by the police? How do I stay whole and safe and creative in an environment where black women are shot and killed by the police in their own homes, while playing video games, cooking, or even sleeping?" 
Program Information

Reckoning: Grief and Light

Location: The Frick Art Museum
Admission:
Admission to the Permanent Collection galleries is free.

Requiem for Rice
German’s work also speaks to the potential for museums and other public spaces to function as agents for change. "This installation begins in the place of the personal. The citizen artist asking, 'how can I be whole here? How can WE be whole here? How do WE heal? What role can museums play as spaces of intentional social healing?' These are the questions that inspire this immersive installation."

The multisensory experience includes musical selections from Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice, a contemporary classical symphonic work about the history of Africans enslaved on Lowcountry South Carolina and Georgia rice plantations. The original score is composed by three-time Emmy® award-winning composer Jonathan Wineglass based on the libretto written by Dr. Edda L. Fields-Black. The Colour of Music Festival Orchestra debuted the work in 2019 at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Music Hall.

A self-described "citizen artist," German is a nationally celebrated poet, performer, sculptor, and activist. In her Homewood studio blocks away from the Frick, she creates work that explores the transformative healing power of art and love. The Frick is honored to be hosting German as a multi-year visiting artist. Over three years, German will create a community-centered body of art using the Frick’s site and collection as a departure point. Reckoning: Grief and Light is the first of three series she envisions for her residency.

Major exhibition program support is provided by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Above: nothing can separate you from the language you cry in (detail), March 2021. 

It's free to visit The Frick Pittsburgh.