Vanessa German


“I believe in the power of art.”
-Vanessa German

Vanessa German (American, born 1976) is a Pittsburgh-based self-taught citizen artist and the fourth living artist to be featured in Spotlight’s 11-year history. German sources a wide range of found objects and decorative elements to create her power figures, relying on the “frequency of yes” to guide selection and placement.

As her sculptures increased in size, the artist moved her practice to the front porch of her home. The children of her Homewood, PA neighborhood took the outdoor studio as an invitation to create and began making art alongside German. The artist regularly activates her area by taking sculptures for walks, costuming friends for uplifting photoshoots in the street, having art talks across the fence with neighbors, and inviting residents to embellish the Arthouse, a dedicated space for creativity founded by German. In addition to sculpture, German expresses herself through photography and spoken word.

BLACK GIRL WITH SNAKES includes porcelain figurines, fake plants, sequined snakes, mirrors, and birds all surrounding a central Black female power figure. According to German, everything means something. Made in 2020, the artist references themes of rebirth, rejuvenation, and hope during the times of uncertainty and loss during the global pandemic.

BLACK GIRL WITH SNAKES was purchased in 2021 with funds gifted anonymously in memory of Madeline O’Connor. Works by women artists Deborah Butterfield, Margarita Cabrera, Letitia Huckaby, Jane Peterson, and Vanessa German were acquired in memory of the Texas artist who is also represented in the McNay’s collection.

vanessa german, BLACK GIRL WITH SNAKES, 2020. Assemblage. Museum purchase with funds gifted anonymously in memory of Madeline O’Connor. © vanessa german

Important Spotlight Dates

Submission Deadline

Reserve your spot at Spotlight by Friday, March 24, 2023

Artwork Delivery

By Monday, April 24, 2023 by appointment (Participants will be sent a list of drop-off windows)

Spotlight Exhibition Opens

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Spotlight Celebration

Sunday, May 21, 2023
12–5 PM, exact times TBD

Teacher Resources

Space Considerations

Many teachers ask about the size restrictions for Spotlight. This year, we ask that any projects larger than 4×4’ receive prior approval. The gallery space is shared and we hope to show as many student projects as possible. Smaller individual projects and group projects are preferred. For more information on this program, visit the Spotlight page.

Major support for Spotlight is provided by the Semmes Foundation, Inc. Additional support is provided by Texas Commission on the Arts.