Home, 1996 (detail)

JoAnne Carson’s intricately layered painting-constructions invite the viewer to consider the relationship between the work’s surface as a skin which folds or is torn open, and the deeper recesses of the work which are constantly exposed in a kind of self-mutating blur. Demonstrating a particular interest in crisscrossing the distinctions between human beings and other forms of life, Carson’s recent sculpture-paintings – of which The Tree of Life is an excellent example – take on the macabre air of a fairy tale for adults in which more or less impossible juxtapositions occur, and where the combination of innumerable fragments lends the impression that the work can never be completely absorbed in a single viewing. In this last-mentioned case, it is unclear whether the tree has devoured a young woman, or whether the two entities are somehow in cahoots. Still, the contrast between the leering grin of the tree and the seemingly innocence of the drum majorette poses provides a charged dialogue that veers between humor, pathos and an acute sense of the uncanny.

(excerpt from Dan Cameron's catalog essay, click to see full text)