Overlapping Tension, Feb 2019

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Overlapping Tension

On view in the Lobby Gallery February 22 – May 5, 2019


Vanessa German, Dried Beef, 2014, mixed media assemblage, 50” x 32” x 20”

Many artists find the barrage of information encountered in contemporary culture through social media and news sources an increasing source of inspiration for critique. Though cultures around the world are tightly stitched together through this constant contact, we experience vastly disparate realities. Overlapping Tension features works by Los Angeles, CA-based Yasmine Diaz, Pittsburgh, PA-based Vanessa German, and Tucson, AZ-based Laura Tanner Graham. Each of these three diverse artists offers a glimpse into their own cultural history by layering highly charged imagery from politics, pop culture, and history in her artwork.

The title Overlapping Tension is taken from Yasmine Diaz’s artist statement, reflecting on the way her collages “navigate overlapping tensions found between religion, gender, and third-culture identity.” As a Yemeni-American raised in a Muslim home, Diaz mines personal and found imagery from the mixed cultures she exists within to create an insightful new perspective. This work, often grounded by subtly hand-cut patterns, reflects the clash of cultures felt by many first-generation Americans. Vanessa German’s works layer commonly found and recognizable materials like newspaper, clocks, dolls, and shells. German combines these materials to create her sculptural “power figures”, which are stately idols featuring resonant representations of African American history. Her mixed media paintings on newspaper are direct, emotional responses to news of continued violence enacted upon the African American community. These works visually contrast Laura Tanner Graham’s delicately hand-cut references to historical socio-political events. Graham’s patterns are informed by antebellum traditions while balancing the changing ideals of the new generation of southern society. Like Diaz, Graham’s patterns are a subtle but constant reference to the material history of a culture.



Yasmine Diaz’s work navigates the overlapping tensions found between religion, gender, and third-culture identity using personal archives, found imagery and various mixed media on paper. She was born and raised in Chicago to parents who immigrated from the highlands of Yafa in southern Yemen. Her collage work often reflects the personal histories of the opposing cultures she was raised within. Diaz has exhibited and performed at spaces including the Brava Theater in San Francisco, Pieter Space L.A., the Albuquerque Museum of Art, The Main Museum in L.A., and The Poetry Project Space in Berlin. Her works are included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The University of California Los Angeles, and The Poetry Project Space in Berlin. Her installation Exit Strategies, completed as artist in residence at the Women’s Center for Creative Work, was recommended by the LA Times, Artillery Magazine, Feminist Magazine, Curate LA, and For Your Art. She lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

Find more about Yasmine Diaz at yasminediaz.com.



Vanessa German is a visual and performance artist based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania neighborhood of Homewood. Homewood is the driving force behind German’s powerful performance work, and whose cast-off relics form the language of her copiously embellished sculptures. As a citizen artist, German explores the power of art and love as a transformative force in the dynamic cultural ecosystem of communities and neighborhoods. She is the founder of Love Front Porch and the ARThouse, a community arts initiative for the children of Homewood. Her work is in private and public collections including Everson Museum of Art, Figge Art Museum, Flint Institute of Arts, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, David C. Driskell Center, Snite Museum of Art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College. German’s fine art work has been exhibited widely, most recently at the Mattress Factory, Everson Museum of Art, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Studio Museum, Ringling Museum of Art, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Her work has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s All Things Considered and in The Huffington Post, O Magazine and Essence Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2015 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, the 2017 Jacob Lawrence Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 2018 United States Artist Grant.

German’s work is on loan courtesy of Concept Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA. Find more about the artist at conceptgallery.com/artists/german-vanessa.



Laura Tanner Graham’s work references historical socio-political events to probe the contradictions between perceived and experienced narratives in contemporary Western society.  Implementing appropriated and invented imagery, her work exposes the unceasing current of systemic colonialism.  Tanner Graham has exhibited nationally in both group and solo exhibitions including the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans.  She has been invited to participate in several national art fairs including, Pulse!, Miami, Prospect.4 in New Orleans, and the Art on Paper fair during Armory week in New York City. She has also been a visiting artist at several academic institutions including Tulane University and the University of Alabama.  Her work has been supported through fellowships and residencies at the Ucross Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center and Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences. She currently resides in Tucson where she is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art at the University of Arizona.

Find more about Laura Tanner Graham at lauratannerart.com.


This exhibition is sponsored by a generous contribution from FMA Advisory.



– Friday February 15, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Third in the Burg- Free admission! Event here.

– Friday March 15, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Third in the Burg- Free admission! Event here.

– Friday April 19, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Third in the Burg- Free admission! Event here.

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  • Yasmine Diaz, I Want Candy, 2017, collage and glitter on hand-cut paper
  • Vanessa German, Dried Beef, 2014, mixed media assemblage, 50” x 32” x 20”
  • Laura Graham Tanner, Lean-In #2, 2019, ink on hand-cut mylar