Heinz Award winner vanessa german. Photo by Joshua Franzos.

Visual artist vanessa german is the only Pittsburgher to receive a prestigious 2022 Heinz Award. The Heinz Family Foundation announced the seven winners on Thursday, Sept 22, in the areas of the Arts, the Environment and the Economy. Each recipient is awarded $250,000.

Focusing primarily on the female form and creating sculptures out of everyday objects such as shells, beads, mirrors, vintage figurines and toy weapons, german creates art that examines collective injustice while also showing positiveness and solidity. 

Vanessa German
“Grief Hoodie,” vanessa german. Photo courtesy of The Frick Pittsburgh.
“Grief Hoodie,” vanessa german. Photo courtesy of The Frick Pittsburgh.

“I believe in the power of art. This is love for me,” says german in a statement. “Creativity saved my life, so, I know deeply, intimately, that creativity is a sure force of power — and, everything that I make inhabits this power. I am always asking the work to be full of power, to DO, to be directed with a purpose beyond my capacity to authorize. I want people to feel the work, for the work to enter into their living places, for it to awaken their own spaces of power, creativity and hope.”

The other Heinz Award honorees are: 

Arts: Cauleen Smith, interdisciplinary artist and educator from Chicago.

Economy: Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane, co-founders of Oakland, California-based Project Equity, and Chrystel Cornelius, president and CEO of Longmont, Colorado-based Oweesta Corporation.

Environment:  Anne Evens, CEO of Chicago’s Elevate, and Rhett Ayers Butler, founder and CEO of Mongabay, based in Menlo Park, California.

The Heinz Awards were established in 1993 to honor the memory of U.S. Senator John Heinz.

Jason Phox is a journalist in the Pittsburgh area sharing important information with the people of the Steel City. He enjoys writing, photography, and mostly comic books.