Vanessa German: Miracles and Glory Abound

October 25, 2019 – March 13, 2020

This exhibition explores the power of stories. How do tales that pass from generation to generation change with each retelling? How do myths and alterations of the truth affect our understanding of history? In Miracles and Glory Abound, multi-media and performance artist Vanessa German (American, born 1976) explores the power of stories through an installation of her assembled sculptures. 

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, Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851) (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) has been reproduced in history books, adorned classroom walls, and illustrated the story of that fateful winter night for over 150 years. Despite its iconic status, the painting contains many visual fabrications, mythologizing rather than portraying an accurate retelling of the historical incident.

Miracles and Glory Abound draws from both the visual composition and emotional concept of Leutze’s iconic painting. In her multi-media installation, German uses her sculpted power-figures to imitate Leutze’s composition and inject the mythic tale with a new narrative.  In an era where notions of truth seem increasingly shaped by ideology, German explores the complicated and nuanced history of the United States, and create a conversation about public memory and the rewriting of history. 

Watch Vanessa German’s 5pm October 25 opening night performance, Olin Concert Hall.

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.

The exhibition and programming are funded in part by the Jane Costello Wellehan Endowment Fund, the Synergy Fund, and the Bates Learning Associates Program. Sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Education.