Anonymous Women by Patty Carroll

Patty Carroll has her BFA from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in Graphic Design, and her Master of Science (MS) in Photography from the Institute of Design at IIT, Chicago. Since leaving graduate school, in 1972, she has taught photography continuously at the University level, both full and part-time. Carroll was Adjunct Full Professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago until 2014, and previously taught at Columbia College in Chicago, The Institute of Design at IIT and the Royal College of Art in London, as well as other universities. Carroll is an Adobe Certified Instructor in Photoshop, and teaches for Ascend Training in Chicago.

The subject is the merging of woman and home.  

In the previous photographic series, “Anonymous Women: Draped,” a lone woman is hidden in a draped vignette with an occasional domestic prop or piece of furniture, where she performs domestic trickery. In this ensuing series, “Anonymous Women: Reconstructed,” the woman becomes part of her excessive domestic trappings and activities. “Reconstructed” is commentary on obsession with collecting, designing, and decorating, inviting hilarity and pathos in our relationship with “things.” The photographs are life-size installations made in the studio using household objects as subject matter. A mannequin substitutes for the woman, where camouflage and anonymity reaches its logical conclusion of extreme absurdity, where the woman perpetually disappears into the artifice and a visual overload of colors and patterns of her environment. Finding the anonymous woman in the chaos becomes an interactive scavenger hunt. In some narratives, the woman is the victim of her home. The final outcome is a photograph and/or a short video. 

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago provides the basis of all of my work, and I continually question, marvel, and try to come to terms with the experience. It was time when suburban life was falsely idealized; the home was a place of perfection and harmony, free from harsh realities, without crime, or messy interiors, where everyone’s drapes and sofa matched, where people were normal, without dark little secrets. It was at time when the “woman’s place was in the home.” I am photographically creating worlds that debunk, critique and satirize these myths of claustrophobic perfection.

All photos by Patty Carroll