'Anonymous Women’ explores home as comfort, camouflage

Patty Carroll

Photographer Patty Carroll explores women’s personal and cultural relationships with the home as a place of comfort and a camouflage in “Anonymous Women,” a Jan. 24 – March 16, 2017 exhibit in the College of Architecture's Wright Gallery, located on the second floor of the Langford Architecture Center's Building A (ARCA).

A reception featuring the artist is scheduled January 24 at 4:30 p.m.

The exhibit’s visually stunning images of women in theatrical domestic scenes are based on Carroll’s experience as a child in suburban Chicago. “The home,” she said, “was a place of perfection and harmony, free from harsh realities of the city, 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 photographically create worlds that debunk, critique and satirize these myths of claustrophobic perfection,” she said.

The photos are displayed in three series.

In the first series, photos depict the head of a vulnerable woman with domestic objects, including a cabbage, a cake and a picture frame, covering her head. The subject’s eyes are obscured and the viewer sees her only through a filter of food or household objects.

In the second series, which highlights the blurred boundaries between the homemaker and her home, a lone woman covered with richly textured fabrics and drapes is immersed in a domestic interior.

The exhibit concludes in a third series of photos in which female figures essentially disappear into claustrophic surroundings. The series is Carroll’s portrayal of narratives about women’s interests and identities: women who compulsively display all their trophies and honors, who collect plates, are compulsive knitters or are “stuck” in the 1970s.

Carroll hopes to reach women of all cultures, ages, or social standings with the project.

“As photographers, we follow our hearts and depict our personal experiences,” she said. “If those messages mean something to a larger group, then we have done our job.”

posted December 14, 2016