PRESS RELEASE – Kasia Kay Art Projects Gallery
October 20, 2006
Everything That Rises Must Converge
Inspired by a same titled collection of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, Carla Gannis’s first solo exhibition at Kasia Kay Art Projects Gallery explores themes of “Southern Gothic”, scrutinizing issues of race, class, and otherness with a darkly absurdist and tragicomic prose. Gannis, a native of the southern United States, creates digital paintings, drawings, and video works that are rooted in a storytelling tradition—embracing allusion, shunning the didactic, and revealing universal archetypes and patterns of human behavior.Gannis creates images with “tweaked” realities, embedded satire, and dreamlike juxtapositions. In her new work we see an African American beauty queen, “Ms. Phenomenal Woman”, encountering anthropomorphized “lions, tigers, and bears” during a small town afternoon parade, as well as Jenny, a very long-necked vegetarian school girl (the title of this piece suggests “some” people think vegetarianism is just Jenny’s “nature”) eating from a tree. In Gannis’s large-scale work, The Intelligent Design Circus, a snake oil salesman at a county fair demonstrates his ID concept by plugging in a female sex doll he has produced. This contemporary Pygmalion does not seem to want his creation to love him, just to turn a profit.Viewers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions about the meanings and convergence points in this body of work. Gannis’s assortment of characters and locations, popular media references, historic mythologies, and personal identity politics often collide. At points Gannis’s specifics converge with universals (the monstrosity of concealed racism, the continued propagation of physical beauty as a determinate for female empowerment). Perhaps viewers may find that Gannis’s strange world is actually not so distant from their own.