of MY State
Vanessa Niederstrasser












In the State of Niederstrasser, I am free to think and do what I want. I am the solitary ruler of this uninhabited state. I am the queen. Nobody can judge me or harm me here. My state takes shape in the mind with symbols such as stars, diamonds, flags, seals, currency, and maps.

Just as I inhabit the State of Niederstrasser, all women need a state of their own where they can heal from the wounds of injustice and rejection. As long as there is a perception that women are too vulnerable to be strong, that they are not as capable as men, that they are second-class citizens and only good for giving birth and raising kids, this state will exist. In my paintings, joining the two pieces of fabric with sewing represents the healing all women deserve.

Anyone can have their own sovereign state. In that state, they can experience freedom and peace because they are bound only by internal rules. Abiding by our own internal directive gives each of us the ultimate authority over ourselves. Relying on our internal guidance, not the comments of others, is the only way to conquer the pain from our wounds.

Vanessa Niederstrasser was born in Wuppertal, Germany, and currently lives in San Francisco, California. Her earliest memory of art making was at three years old, when her mom dressed her in a white lab coat and put her in front of a gray wall. She quickly transformed it with a sea of shocking green dots.

In 2002, she received her Masters in Architecture from the University of Wuppertal. Lacking patience for the regulations and guidelines that architecture required, she decided to study fine arts instead. After studying with Laurids Ortner and Irmin Kamp, she earned her Masters of Fine Art with honors from the Academy of Fine Arts, Düsseldorf in 2008.

Her professional work began with large-scale organic sculptures. In 2005, one of her monumental bronze sculptures was chosen by Deutsche Bank to replace a Max Ernst piece that had been moved from outside their Düsseldorf building to a museum. Her sculpture was realized and installed in 2006.

In 2011, she moved to the United States, a decision that resulted in a dramatic change in her work. Unable to find the raw materials she needed to continue with her organic sculptures, she abandoned organic sculpture to take on geometry in 2D. In 2019, she returns to Germany for a solo show of her paintings at the Siegburg Museum.

CV - 

2003 – 2008 . Nomination Highest Degree “Meisterschüler” of I. Kamp
2001 – 2003 . Fine Arts under I. Kamp at the Academy of Fine Arts Dusseldorf, Germany, Master of Fine Arts
1996 – 2001 . Baukunst under L.Ortner at the Academy of Fine Arts Dusseldorf, Germany
. Architecture at the University of Wuppertal, Germany, Master of Engineering

. Dave Bown Projects 13th Semiannual Competition kuratiert von Helga Christoffersen, Assistant Curator, New Museum, New York; and Kelly Kivland, Associate Curator, Dia Art Foundation, New York-
. Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta, Georgia, USA: 3rd place winner for Metro Montage IX Exhibition
. Art Award: New placement on an orphaned base Wuppertal/Germany
. Scholarship from the City of Düsseldorf: Artist in Residence to Ein Hod/Israel
. Support Art Award for painting of PSD Bank Düsseldorf/Germany
. Support Art Award of Deutsche Bank AG including realization
. Scholarship trip from DAAD to Japan

. Museum of the City Siegburg, Germany  
. Museum Abbey Kamp, County of Kamp Lintfort, Germany
. Sabaki Space, Contemporary Art Gallery Frank Gerlitzki, Guangzhou, China
. Museum Abbey Liesborn, County of Warendorf, Germany
. Galerie Samuelis Baumgarte, Bielefeld, Germany
. Galerie Winkelmann, Düsseldorf, Germany
. Galerie Koch, Hannover, Germany
. Sculpture inauguration of Deutsche Bank AG Art Award, Düsseldorf, Germany
. Galerie Janzen, Wuppertal Düsseldorf, Germany

. Haggin Museum Stockton, CA
. Alfa Galerie, Miami, FL
. Art Center Hollywood, FL
. Dave Bown Projects 13th Semiannual Competition kuratiert von Helga Christoffersen, Assistant Curator, New Museum, New York; und Kelly Kivland, Associate Curator, Dia Art Foundation, New York – http://davebownprojects.com/Vanessa_Niederstrasser.html
. espace apart “Tono subito”, Diekirch, Luxembourg
. Hotel Adagio-ArtSpan, San Francisco, CA
. Hotel Mosser, San Francisco, CA 2016
. Kunstverein Gelsenkirchen in the Kunstmuseum Gelsenkirchen, Germany
. ARTINA, at Sandy Spring Museum, MD; curated by Washington Sculpture Group,Washington DC
. Art Galerie7, Cologne, Germany 2015
. Art Olympia, Toshima City Hall Tokyo, Japan
. American University Museum at Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC
. Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, MARINMOCA, Novato, CA
. Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta, GA
. Museum of Fine Arts der Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
. Todd Art Gallery, Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN
. Museum of New Art (MONA), Detroit MI
. Museum of Fine Arts of Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
. Attleboro Arts Museum, Attleboro, MA
. Schlosspark Stammheim, Köln, Germany
. ArtPadSF with Project One Gallery, San Francisco, CA
. The Crocker Kingley Sacramento Museum Competition, Roseville, CA
. Galerie Koch, Hannover, Germany
. Representation of the German State NRW, Brüssel, Belgium
. Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
. Halle 6 - Galerie Christine Hölz, Düsseldorf, Germany
. Alexia Goethe Gallery, London, GB
. Frieze Art Fair London, Gallery Goethe, London, GB
 Grosse Kunstausstellung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Germany
. Nagoza Zokei University of Art, Nagoya, Japan
. Skulpturenlandschaft, Hamburg, Germany

Works in collections Deutsche Bank AG, Sparkasse Karlsruhe, AIDA Cruises, Museum Abtei Liesborn, C&A Gruppe, von Rundstedt HR Partners, United Internet, Dada Janco Museum Ein Hod/Israel, private collections. 

I relate to the world through BIG expression. The artistic response to my own personal experience comes out strong, like a steam valve releasing energy that would otherwise combust its vessel. Monumental canvases, gigantic sculptures, near neon punches of color, pushy graphic marks, aggressive symbols, and fences of zig zags—I use these devices as vocabulary to build thoughts in response to my experience of the world.

My background in architecture provides the foundation upon which I continue to build alternate imaginary worlds with lines and shapes. My canvases emerge as technical drawings before transforming into multi-dimensional pattern-scapes, where layers of geometric shapes can buoy meaning.

My work represents the triumph of individual expression over dogma. It celebrates the beauty of the weird in the face of uniformity and convention. It asks the viewer to imagine different ways and worlds—to entertain “what ifs” in response to perceived certainty.

Evolution of State represents the journey of finding one’s voice in a new place. It's about rearranging the culturally dominant symbols of power to reclaim the borderless internal freedom that is everyone's birthright. Transplanted, one can begin to experience oneself as a different person because we start to look inside for direction.

Using the star and the diamond, common symbols in the United States, Evolution of State creates symbology for the individual nation state built on personal power.

The diamond represents caution, and can be seen everywhere in the United States: street signs, carpool signs, cones, pennants, marks on the street, manhole covers. In a society that cautions its people constantly, are its citizens still able to recognize danger for themselves?

The star is the symbol of the American obsession with individualism and self-determination: the star-spangled flag, the stars of Hollywood, the stars you find on lottery tickets. The star is our reminder that we’re this close to “making it”. It’s about striving and the self-consciousness that comes with it.

Evolution of State symbolizes the freedom attained when one listens to oneself for supreme guidance. No longer symbols of external power, stars and diamonds now stand for the internal power present when one listens to what’s happening on the inside.