The images in photographer Patty Carroll‘s series Reconstructed display colorful, intricately constructed scenes brimming with stuff. But beneath the layers of crochet, drapery, fringe, flora, and costume jewelry, a deeper theme emerges: one that explores the correlation between female identity and the trappings of domesticity.
“I’ve seen so many women who obsess about every single thing in their house; they still have the plastic on their couches. That’s the way it was when I was growing,” says Carroll. In her photos, faceless women blend in with their colorful, chaotic, and overdecorated surroundings. By creating her own world of intricately designed yet outwardly messy worlds, she aims to satirize these myths of “claustrophobic perfection.”
To create the images, Carroll starts with an object or piece of fabric that she feels particularly drawn to, and builds on it from there. “I have a whole closet of vintage clothes that I bought especially for making these pictures,” she says. “I’ll find something there that just triggers the whole thing.” Some of her props are leftovers from her earlier series Draped, another series of obscured female faces that hits on similar themes.
Carroll describes her photographs as vignettes–and even captions them on her site with little stories–yet she never starts building her sets with a full narrative in mind. From a friend’s gifted old toaster emerged “Toasty,” a photo with a dizzying array of appliances, one of which replaces the woman’s head. The idea for “Seventy” arose after buying an orange scarf at a thrift store that reminded her of a previous project she did on Elvis. Her scenes can take up to two to three days to construct inside of her Chicago studio, even with the help of two assistants.
Carroll describes herself as more of a collector of photos than a collector of things, but as long as the series continues, the thrift-store goods continue to pile up. “[The photos] are challenging in the sense that I don’t want to repeat myself, but I want it to be about this obsession of stuff,” she says.
See the full series here.