Patty Carroll received her BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and a Master of Science degree in photography from The Institute of Design, IIT in Chicago, studying fine art traditional photography with Aaron Siskind, Arthur Siegel, and Garry Winogrand. Since then, she has continuously taught photography at the university level. She lives in Chicago and Kansas City. Today we share her series, Anonymous Women.
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” commanded the Wizard of Oz, a small, ordinary person hiding behind a curtain pulling strings, levers, and other apparatus creating the illusion of power.
Many women find themselves in this position, silently and powerfully running a home and family, creating beauty and order from chaos, but unnoticed by the outer world, the people around them, or even themselves. Yet, obsessing and perfecting the home and its trappings often shape the identity of many of us (not only women.) Perfecting a space with objects or décor becomes so central that one’s identity becomes fused with it to the point of invisibility.
As a woman artist, I am confronting emotional issues of hiding, comfort, and safety; how the home environment is a place of perfection, yet decoration can camouflage one’s individuality to the point of claustrophobia. The draperies in these photographs act as both a visual cue as well as a literal interpretation of over-identification/obsession.
While my direct sources for this series come from furnishing a home, as well as remembering the nuns in their habits while growing up, this series also references draped statues from the Renaissance, women wearing the burka, the Virgin Mary, ancient Greek and Roman dress, priests’ and judges’ robes, among others.
I believe everyone has a hidden identity formed by personal traditions, memories, and ideas that are cloaked from the outer world. Cultivating these inner psychological, emotional and intellectual worlds is perhaps our greatest challenge as people, wherever we come from or wherever we live.
Carroll has participated in many one-person and group exhibitions consistently since Graduate school, mainly in traditional photographic exhibit spaces. Her photographs are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and MOMA, as well as many private collections.
She lives in Chicago and Kansas City
To see more of Patty’s work, please visit her website.