Vanessa German and Janae Brown (photo by Brian Cohen)

Vanessa German’s first solo show in Los Angeles, $lang: Short Language in Soul, features multimedia sculptures that incorporate found objects collected from around her Pittsburgh neighborhood as well as along her travels — fabric, seashells, feathers, toys. She combines these elements to create ritualistic figures or layered wall works onto which she paints portraits of black females, drawing on both African cultural traditions and the African-American assemblage art that emerged in Los Angeles, where she was raised. German’s artistic practice is intertwined with her social activism, manifested in ARTHouse, a community arts initiative aimed at bringing art to children affected by violence.

In conjunction with the exhibition, German will be staging a six-hour performance “soft: the longest kiss,” this Saturday. Performed with her partner Janae Brown, it will present an intimate exchange between Black women, a perspective absent in mainstream depictions of African-American femininity.

Following the performance, German will be in conversation from 5 to 6pm with Sarah Gavlak and Pavel Zoubok, who is presenting the exhibition in partnership with the gallery.

When: Saturday, May 18, 11am–5pm
Where: Gavlak Los Angeles (1034 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

More info at Gavlak Gallery.

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Matt Stromberg

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.