PATTY CARROLL FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS STAGED PHOTOGRAPHS USING MODELS, FURNITURE AND FABRICS TO CREATE PROVOCATIVE AND THEATRICAL DOMESTIC SCENES INVESTIGATING THE MANY COMPLEX RELATIONSHIPS EXISTING BETWEEN WOMEN AND THEIR HOME. READ OUR INTERVIEW TO DISCOVER MORE ABOUT HER, HER ART, INSPIRATIONS AND INTERESTS!
Tell us something about your background and how did you get into photography.
I was studying graphic design in college, and we had to take a photography course, which I loved. It also helped that my future boyfriend and I met in the darkroom, which added a very compelling note to studying. I completed a BFA in design, and went back for a year of graduate school after working in the industry for a couple of years. While in grad school, I became more interested in photography, (and not working for a design company.) I switched to graduate school at the Institute of Design at IIT, because my professor said that is where I should go! It was the best training ever. My teachers were all men, who had their own visions so solid that I understood from them what it means to find your own view of the world through photography.
The Anonymous Women serie is a collection of super decorative, feminine and vibrant works, but at the same time women seem robbed of their identity by objects, fabrics and their surroundings, someway becoming part of the furniture. As woman and as artist how do you think women are perceived by society?
There is no straight answer to this. There are so many types of women and so many societies. However, (if I may use icons,) as evidenced in our last election, Hillary Clinton was “not liked” by many men and women in the USA. She was seen as only professional, and did not show herself in the media or on the campaign trail as a warm, caring woman. She, like Martha Stewart, was also seen as distrustful and cold. These are women who have broken into business and politics; worlds where men dominate and have been invaded. They have done it by professionalism, but now appear non-human. On the other hand, Michelle Obama is a much loved woman who has made a difference, because she is perceived as warm, caring and a real mom. I do wonder if she went from being seen as a wife with influence and competed for the white house, would she then be seen also as an ogre, a threat, and less trustworthy? In short, I think that no matter how much women accomplish, society wants women to keep traditional roles and positions, and if we build businesses, or make art, or have talk shows, or give millions away from a foundation, we still must be warm, fuzzy and happy to the outer world.
What does it mean “home” to you?
(Home is a lot of things to me. It is very important to me because we have moved so many times, and seem to be constantly traveling. Here are my thoughts:)
Home is a subject, an object, a place of contemplation and mystery.
Home is a myth.
Home is comfort, or at least, the most familiar place you can go.
Home is where personal psycho-dramas get played out.
Home is an idea that is elusive, a place between ideal and real.
Home is a place to feel comfortable; a retreat, but is demanding like a child.
Home is the outer expression of who we are on the inside.
It seems like your works also have religious influences. It’s because of some personal experiences or it’s an aesthetic choice?
I attended Catholic schools from first grade through high school where I wore uniforms, and was taught by nuns who wore habits. This was a great leveler of position and place, but it was also about mystery. The identity of the person who was the teacher was completely obfuscated by her clothing and the great swirls of material that seemed to surround her.
Ever thought about starting a new project about men?
No, not now. I am a woman, and it is what I know the most about!
How would you describe your own aesthetic?
More is more, a colorful cocktail with a touch of vintage pattern, and humor as the garnish.
What’s beauty for you?
Beauty satisfies our senses. We are attracted to beauty in whatever form that makes personal sense. When we have the comfort and safety of beauty, we are then able to confront the difficult, hidden areas of life and emotion. Searching for harmony may be our most difficult challenge, perhaps one that will never be achieved.
What’s the image (a painting, a photo, a movie frame, etc…) that had the biggest impact on yourself and your work?
There are many, too many. However, every day I wake up to a Robert Gordy print in our bedroom of a spotted dog in spotted clouds and a patterned ground. It probably has “patterned” my thinking! Other favorites are the paintings of Chicago Imagists such as Roger Brown and Ed Paschke, who have affected my sense of color, humor, and aesthetic.
If you could have an imaginary conversation with three artists, icons or celebrities, dead or alive, who would you wish to talk to and about what?
Anais Nin, the writer
Artemisia Gentileschi, the painter
Hannah Hoch, the Dadaist collagist
I would talk to them about negotiating their lives as artists in their times, and their complicated relationships with men.
Tell us something more about your interests:
– favorite artwork: All Chicago Imagists
– book: Alice in Wonderland
– record cover: It is really the poster that went with the album Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits; the Milton Glaser poster of Bob Dylan with the black silhouette and colorful swirls of hair.
– movie: The Wizard of Oz.
Which upcoming projects are you excited about?
I have started making installations that are embedded into the exhibitions of the Anonymous Women project. So that has got me thinking about the inclusion of stuff in space.
Do you have a personal motto?
One idea per picture.
Photos courtesy of the artist