Stephens' work, which is often irreverent, darkly humorous, but, always thought provoking, has been exhibited in many galleries, often winning awards, and major museums in the U.S., Japan, and France. The artist has been a coastal resident for many years and resides in Caspar. This is what a few critics have to say about their artist's work:

"Her work does not soothe, it seethes; it is satirical, risqué, witty, menacing, and elegantly macabre, and for some of you it will be downright disturbing.

"No small part of her skill is the authority with which she combines and contrasts garish, vulgar, silly, and absurd items of human manufacture with the pure elegance and power of nature...

"There are a lot of mix--media artists around, and much of their stuff is funny, outrageous, and wild, but I have seen few who are so solidly grounded as Stephens in terms of color, style and composition....when is incomplete, meticulous control at all times and at all levels. That and her wicked, intelligent vision set her worlds apart from the herd." (Eleanor Cooney, North Coast News, Fort Bragg, CA)

"...whose assemblages are flavored by romanticism, the 19th century artistic movement that uses symbols, -- often idealized -- to express the beauty and mystery of life...her evocative artwork also reveals the whimsical, dreamlike elements of surrealism and the distortion, colors and stylized symbols of expressionism." (Sharri Kaplan, Los Gatos Weekly Times, Los Gatos, CA)

"Stephens' conglomerations are dreamlike, eerie, psychologically provocative..." (Tigerlily Jones, North Coast News, Fort Bragg, CA)

" A sculpture featuring dismembered and crucified Barbie dolls on display....has a local pastor demanding its removal...considers the sculpture pornographic and an attack on religion..." (Tobias Young, The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, CA)

"...all the pieces of odds and ends fit together to make a powerful and provocative social, political, and spiritual statement...Through the language of her reconstructions, referencing art history and mythology, we see a quizzical look at what we hold valuable and absolute in our society, as well as an imaginative look at the concepts of spirituality, death and transcendence." (Susan Canavarro, Advocate News, Fort Bragg, CA)

NOTE: The following reviews refer to Stephens' HOMAGE TO ELVIS altar which was included in an exhibition titled Elvis + Marilyn:2X Immortal which toured 10 prestigious museums in the U.S. and continued on to tour Japan for a year. This piece was featured on the front page of the New Your Times Entertainment section, American Airlines in -flight magazine and other publications. The altar now resides in the art collection of the House of Blues in their Las Vegas establishment.

"My favorite piece was Joanne Stephens' Homage to Elvis. (Greil Marcus, SPEAK magazine, San Francisco, CA)

"Warhol's Haring's and Christo's fairly straightforward Elvis and Marilyn portraits...One favorite with both audiences and critics is the 7 foot tall sculpture/assemblage/altar/titled Homage to Elvis..." (Rick Stentz, Metro Arts, San Jose, CA)

"My favorite peace is a TV set with bejeweled Elvis. Homage to Elvis, by Joanne Stephens is not satire but true devotion. The kitschy objects and faux-haroque gilt that make up the work take on the feel of a holy shrine." (Rachael Butler, Solon Herald Sun, Cleveland, Ohio)

" peace stopped me cold, and for a long time: Joanne Stephens' 1991 Homage to Elvis....The assemblage is beautiful, absurd. entrancing, its detail obsessive.... the work is too obsessive to be fake and too received to be real: it is absolutely contradictory and it makes no sense. That's what draws you in: Why would anyone work so long and hard, so lovingly and so carefully, on a parody?"

Because, the work answers, this is not a parody, this is a setting. In the Stephens' piece, the altar contextualizes the heart of the work just as the exhibit as a whole contextualizes her piece, by providing a phony place for a moment of life.




Joanne Stephens
PO Box 53
Caspar, CA 95420

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