I ask people what a deeper human conversation would feel like by exploring American symbols.
Vanessa Niederstrasser was born in Wuppertal. Currently, she is living close to San Francisco, California and in the Rhinland, Germany. From 1996 to 2001, she studied Architecture at the University of Wuppertal.
After graduation, she moved on to the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, where she first studied Architectural Arts with Laurids Ortner from 2001-2003, followed by Fine Arts with Irmin Kamp. She graduated in 2008 with a Master of Fine Art, MFA, highest honors.
Vanessa is driven by a inner demand of exercising painting daily.
Her theme developed when she moved to America from Germany in 2011, where she immediately noticed the triangle and diamond shapes that are used as warning and caution signs here.
Vanessa Niederstrasser has always been interested in pointed forms, and her background in architecture led her to start using these warning shapes to create paintings with exact measurements and straight lines.
The diamond and star have become her voice in this country. They are partially a response to her new environment here, and partially a continuance of her past.
These symbols of caution are everywhere there: street signs, carpool signs, cones, pennants, marks on the street, manhole covers. She feels overloaded with warning signs. It feels overdone to her—protecting people from something
Sometimes she thinks these caution signs are making us dumb because we have lost the need to see danger for ourselves.
Surrounded by instructional signs, Vanessa feels we lose the ability to think for ourselves.
We begin to act like robots, machines. She takes the shapes out of their usual context and transfer them into something new to ask people to think for themselves again.
The work is pushy and aggressive. She use diamond shapes to create fences of zigzags and ups and downs.
" I choose to use gray to calm this aggressiveness, and to show the calm, quiet nature of those who follow the warning signs." - Vanessa Niederstrasser
Sometimes she makes a sign out of her last name on the canvas. It represents her own search for identity in a new country.