Nationally Recognized Artist to Host Reception, Gallery Tour at UM

November 07, 2014

MISSOULA – Vanessa German will offer a gallery tour of her exhibition “Bitter Root” on Thursday, Nov. 13, during an artist’s reception. The exhibition continues through Jan. 10 in the Paxson Gallery of the Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center at the University of Montana. The reception will include food and live music by Keith Hardin from 5 to 7 p.m. in the PAR/TV Center lobby. The gallery tour and reception are free and open to the public.

The Jim and Jane Dew Visiting Artist Lecture that German was scheduled to deliver on Monday, Nov. 10, has been canceled. Instead, German will offer an exhibition tour during the reception. The tour will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. 

German is a nationally recognized sculptor, poet, activist and accomplished performing artist who creates figures out of found and recycled materials. She is an educator and advocate for children, creating safe spaces for art-making in her Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh that has been called one of America’s most violent. She has been in residence at UM and the Montana Museum of Art & Culture for a week, meeting with students and classes. Her visit was sponsored by UM’s DiverseU, a series of activities that prompt dialogue in order to explore the complexities of human experience, promote understanding and create community through the practice of civil discourse. 

Her exhibition at MMAC features mixed media sculptures that reference folk art and the transatlantic slave trade, or as she states, “the western coast of Africa, the east coast of the Carolinas, the east end of Pittsburgh.” The exhibition title has been abbreviated from German’s spoken word phrase “Bitter Root, Lost Loot, Sore Tooth, Oh Shoot, Whole Truth, Traveling Reckoning Show,” reflecting the feeling of journey this body of work contains. She has a long affiliation with author James Lee Burke’s novel “Bitterroot.” 

“I've been listening to this book on tape for about five years,” German said. “I listen to it over and over again, because it makes me feel like I am in Montana. I love hearing about the landscape. Whenever I need to, I listen to this book [and] I travel to Montana, to a wide place that is almost exactly the opposite from where I am, and it helps me to feel good.”

MMAC’s academic year gallery hours are 12-3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and 12-6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. The museum is open to the public with a suggested $5 donation. For more information call 406-243-2019 or visit http://www.umt.edu/montanamuseum.

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Contact: Brandon Reintjes, curator of art, Montana Museum of Art & Culture, 406-243-2019, brandon.reintjes@mso.umt.edu.