Vanessa German: Miracles and Glory Abound

October 25, 2019 – March 28, 2020

This exhibition explores the power of stories. How do tales that pass from generation to generation change with each retelling? How do the alterations of truth affect our understanding of history and shape current ideologies?

When the story of George Washington leading Continental army soldiers across the Delaware River on December 25, 1776 is told, most Americans think of the painting depicting an heroic Washington standing in a small, crowded boat thrusting forward through icy water. The large Emanuel Leutze painting (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City) has been reproduced in history books, adorned classroom walls, and illustrated the story of that fateful winter night for more than 150 years. Despite its iconic status, Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851) contains many visual fabrications, mythologizing rather than portraying an accurate retelling of the historical incident.

Miracles and Glory Abound explores the power of stories through the assembled sculptures of Vanessa German (American, born 1976). The exhibition draws from both the visual and emotional concept of Leutze’s iconic painting. Using her own power-figures to imitate Leutze’s composition, she creates a conversation about public memory and the rewriting of history through the lens of privilege. Miracles and Glory Abound explores the complicated, nuanced history of the United States and how that history relates to our current suffering in the echoes of violence, hate, and materialism.

This exhibition is organized by the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan, Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa, and Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, Maine.