Patty Carroll, Red Velvet
From Francesca Woodman to Judy Chicago, women artists have long grappled with the idea of the home: are our houses our personal sanctuaries or our monotonous prisons? The photographer Patty Carroll expresses the ambivalent relationship between femininity and the home in her ongoing project “Anonymous Woman,” in which she shoots women, meant to represent everywoman, engulfed in drapes.
Some of her images read as warm and womb-like; Red Velvet catches a woman swept up in a luxurious and cozy wave of rich color. Images like Ecru Shade hint at meaning bubbling just below the surface, about to erupt. Both safe and exhilarating, these images paint the home as “a place of retreat and a place of power.” But other images like Pink Pillow or Ruffled seem to entrap their female subjects, who might struggle to escape without success. Carroll tells New York Magazine, “there can become this obsession with decoration — and that can take over your identity," explaining that many women in the home feel “almost powerless in the end.”
Carroll idealized 1950s domesticity in her youth, and she was inspired by nuns in habit and women in burqas. The power of the series lies in this tension between the fear and comfort evoked by the home; we feel nestled and safe within its walls, but we fear being held hostage. The images are soothing and precious, some almost sacred, but underneath the surface, is unrest. Take a look at her work, and let us know what you think!
Thanks to New York Magazine
Image via New York Magazine