Still / Life
References from Western art history provide points of engagement with Kansas City and Chicago-based artist Patty Carroll’s photographic images, which employ distinctly modern elements of décor and consumerist culture to reveal psychological threads of domesticity’s sometimes overwhelming tenor. Carroll’s photographs call to mind multiple art historical influences—Greco-Roman figurative sculpture and its distinctive treatment of draping done in marble, the opulent cascades of textile pattern in Northern Renaissance painting, and the still life genre—in related series in Still / Life exhibited together for the first time.
Using contemporary floral textile patterns to conceal human figures, Carroll’s images evoke questions: Who are these figures? Why are they hidden from our view? What does the composition reveal about the subject? What is the viewer’s relationship to the figure? Camouflaging their subject in this way “calls into question the apparent harmony of the scenes, subverting the viewer’s initial enjoyment of the color, texture, fabric, and composition, gradually to be replaced by greater awareness of the underlying complexity,” as noted by Naren Barfield in a recent essay written on Carroll’s work.
In her still life images that include bird figurines and synthetic floral materials, the focus from above transforms these three-dimensional objects into two-dimensional patterns. Together with the figures, these square format works create shifts in depth perception and give focus to patterns found both in nature and in consumer culture, that coalesce the two series.