Vanessa German refers to her sculpture as “power figures.” The accumulation of objects that she collects from her neighborhood or the “flea-tique” markets she frequents are attached to the body parts of dolls in a manner that in some way recalls the Nkisi Nkondi religious idols made by the Kongo people of the Congo region in Africa. The Kongo drive nails into The Nkisi Nkondi, each nail representing a type of oath. Though German was unaware of this precedent when she began creating her power figures, she now feels that there is a definite connection between her practice and those of her ancestors. For German, each object collected, especially those collected from abandoned homes and areas in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh where she lives, is a potent reminder of another, often forgotten life. The objects are then “lifted up” when they become part of the power figure and become stand-ins for the lives of those to whom they once belonged.
Just Do It was included in the exhibition Re:Purposed on view at The Ringling in 2015 and is currently on display as part of the exhibition The First Five Years of Art of Our Time