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2019 Season

sometimes.we.cannot. be.with.our.bodies.

Vanessa German

On View

Sep 14–Nov 30, 2019

“this work is a dimensional living reckoning. the living reckoning is bold, eruptive, disruptive work against systems & pathologies that oppress & subvert overt & covert violence onto & into the lives & humanity of marginalized people on this land.”

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

The exhibition is also made possible through the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this program through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Visit www.nebraskaartscouncil.org for information on how the Nebraska Arts Council can assist your organization, or how you can support the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

The Union also wishes to thank Omaha Steaks, Mutual of Omaha, Karen & Robert Duncan, and the Pavel Zoubok Gallery and Director Kris Nuzzi for their generous contributions to the exhibition.

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For the 2019 Wanda D. Ewing Commission, the Pittsburgh-based artist Vanessa German presents sometimes.we.cannot.be.with.our.bodies. — a multimedia installation that originated at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, PA and is being reimagined at The Union. In the artist’s own words, “this work is a dimensional living reckoning. the living reckoning is bold, eruptive, disruptive work against systems & pathologies that oppress & subvert overt & covert violence onto & into the lives & humanity of marginalized people on this land.”

sometimes.we.cannot.be.with.our.bodies. was originally conceived for the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2017. It was organized for The Union by Nicole J. Caruth. Before traveling to The Union, the exhibition was presented at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.


Artist Talk at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Wednesday, September 4, 5:30 pm
Richards Hall 15

The Hixson–Lied Visiting Artist & Scholar Lecture Series at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln presents Vanessa German. The Lecture Series brings notable artists, scholars and designers to Nebraska each semester to enhance the education of students. This lecture is free to the public. For more information, visit arts.unl.edu/art

Opening Reception
Saturday, September 14, 12–2 pm

Join us for the opening reception of Vanessa German’s multimedia installation sometimes.we.cannot.be.with.our.bodies. The afternoon will feature presentations by German as well as locally-based artists. Drinks and refreshments will be served.

Ritual Reckoning
Saturday, September 14, 2 pm

Following the Opening Reception, Vanessa German will lead a “ritual reckoning” — a two-mile procession in honor of Will Brown and other people of color whose lives have been lost to violence. Accompanied by seven local performers, German will walk silently from The Union for Contemporary Art (2423 N. 24th St.) to the front steps of the Douglas County District Court (1701 Farnam St.) where the group will perform a goodbye ritual song inspired in part by Mende birth and funeral rites.

Viewers are invited to encounter the performance as it meanders through Omaha, joining at any point for as little or as long as desired. We expect the performance will take approximately 1-1.5 hours to complete. For the safety of spectators and performers alike, we ask that everyone stay on city sidewalks and out of the streets. (See maps to the left.)

PERFORMERS: Vanessa German, Dawaune Hayes, Liz Gre, Mary Lawson, Aaliyah Leacock, Nadia Ra'Shaun, TammyRa, and Mariah Person

Community Forum: LGBTQ+ Advocacy
Thursday, October 3, 7–8:30 pm

This forum brings together representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Black & Pink to engage in an open dialogue with community members about achieving justice for LGBTQ+ individuals. The organizations will share the work they are doing in Omaha to combat oppressive practices and create new legislation, and share ways that community members can get involved in current initiatives.

About Black & Pink

Black & Pink's mission is to abolish the criminal punishment system and to liberate LGBTQIA2S+ people/people living with HIV who are affected by that system, through advocacy, support, and organizing. For more, visit blackandpink.org.

About the ACLU

The ACLU is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. For more, visit aclu.org.

Vanessa German Biography

Vanessa German is a visual and performance artist based in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood. Homewood is the community that is the driving force behind German’s powerful performance work, and whose cast-off relics form the language of her copiously embellished sculptures. As a citizen artist, German explores the power of art and love as a transformative force in the dynamic cultural ecosystem of communities and neighborhoods. She is the founder of Love Front Porch and the ARThouse, a community arts initiative for the children of Homewood.

German’s work is in private and public collections including Everson Museum of Art, Figge Art Museum, Flint Institute of Arts, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, David C. Driskell Center, Snite Museum of Art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College. German’s fine art work has been exhibited widely, most recently at the Figge Art Museum, Fralin Museum of Art, Mattress Factory, Everson Museum of Art, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Studio Museum, Ringling Museum of Art, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Her work has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s All Things Considered and in The Huffington Post, O Magazine, and Essence Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2018 Don Tyson Prize, 2018 United States Artist Grant, 2017 Jacob Lawrence Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and 2015 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant. German is represented by Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York, NY.

Gallery Images

Vanessa German - Exterior of Union building with text written by Vanessa German filling one window frame and quotes from Toni Morrison and other filling the second window.

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"Ritual Reckoning" Images - Saturday, September 14, 2019

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