vanessa german

(Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1976 - )

Love Poem for Lil Kim


Rose quartz for deep love and healing, pink tennis shoe key chains, wood, a nap, paint, cloth, heartbreak, love, love, love, love, love, shame and it’s opposite, deep love, true love, real love, whole love, forgiveness, cowrie shells, clear quartz, wire, Astro turf, hate, rage, shame, light, too many broken noses, time, the 90’s, memories, the love that no one can ever take away from you, the 80’s rap music scene, magic, safety, bamboo earrings, beaded trim, pot metal birds, the death of several of your friends and no real way to process it in the public, locks and keys, glass bottles, do whatever you want to do you are free, colorism, amethyst, love, love, love, wholeness, blind spot mirror, yes, love and resistance, justice.

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

The Mary S. and Lewis S. Myers Endowment Fund for Painting and Sculpture


More Information

german began producing “power figure” sculptures during the mid 2010s. Drawing inspiration from Central African Nkisi N’Kondi figures, german’s sculptures are largely constructed from materials she’s scavenged from her Homewood neighborhood. In the tradition of minksi (nkisi plural), german’s works are produced with the intent of promoting healing and repair, while also existing as vessels for powerful forces. Love Poem for Lil’ Kim is a key example of german’s power figures and is a tribute to American rapper and hip-hop icon Kimberly Denise Jones, whose stage name is Lil’ Kim. After performing for a short time with the Brooklyn-based group Junior M.A.F.I.A. in the early 1990s, Lil’ Kim released her solo album Hard Core in 1996 to much acclaim—its debut as number 11 on the Billboard 200 was the highest debut for a female rap album at the time. “I remember when Lil’ Kim first came on the scene,” says german, “and how powerful a presence she was, a really galvanizing presence in hip hop because of her relationships with rappers, but also because of the way she was sex and body positive.” german’s love poem for the singer takes the form of a power figure composed from sourced materials that includes tennis shoe keychains, bamboo earrings, AstroTurf, and glass bottles. As a power figure, the sculpture’s primary intent is to protect and heal Lil’ Kim, who admitted to undergoing reconstructive and plastic surgery after surviving several episodes of domestic abuse. Yet the work’s force is not only intended for Lil’ Kim “but for all other Black women and Black girls,” german adds, “…a force that protects sex positive, body positive, creative, bold, courageous Black girls and Black women.” --Jared Ledesma, Senior Curator

mixed media
found object