All artists are formed by a combination of personal experiences and psychological makeup. Specifically, I believe every artist has a moment or time in his or her life that affects the direction of one’s life. Most of mine have to do with home: leaving home, returning home, being home, needing a home, and always being alone in the quest for home.


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Patty Carroll received her BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and a Master of Science degree in photography from The Institute of Design, IIT in Chicago, studying fine art traditional photography with Aaron Siskind, Arthur Siegel, and Garry Winogrand, Since then, she has continuously taught photography at the university level. Beginning at a small American art school, The Aegean School of Fine Arts in Paros, Greece, and onto full-time faculty at Penn State University in 1973-74, the University of Michigan in 1974-76, and at the Institute of Design from 1977-1992.  In England, she was Senior Tutor at the Royal College of Art in London and Tutor at London College of Printing from 1992-96. In Chicago, she has taught digital photography part-time at Columbia College until 2013, and is currently Adjunct Full Professor of Photography at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago.

Carroll has participated in many one-person and group exhibitions consistently since graduate school, mainly in traditional photographic exhibit spaces. Exhibitions include the large group exhibition entitled, “Elvis and Marilyn: 2 X Immortal,” which featured a variety of artists using the imagery of Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe in their work. It opened at the ICA in Boston in 1994, and travelled throughout the USA, and then to Japan until 1998. One-person exhibitions of her photographs of Elvis Impersonators have been at Memphis College of Art in 1997, and in 1999, “Elvis?” at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.

Carroll has exhibited her "Anonymous Women" series in various museums and galleries world wide, including at White Box Museum in Beijing, Northern Illinois University Museum, DeKalb, IL, the Cultural Center of Chicago, and Martha Schneider Gallery, Chicago, IL. Images from the series have won numerous awarda and been feature in many online blogs such as Huffington Post, Feature Shoot, Rooms Magazine UK, among others. It has also been featured in several photography magazines such as the British Journal of Photography (BJP) and Domus, Israel. (Please see full CV for entire listings of related blogs and interviews.)

Her exhibition titled, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” of night photographs was held at the Royal Photographic Society in Bath, England in April, 1996. This work has been shown in numerous gallery exhibitions; for example, in 1999 at Carol Ehlers Gallery in Chicago as a one-person exhibit, “Longings in the Night.” Her photographic portrait series “Spirited Visions,” was a collaborative project with Chicago artists, resulting in an exhibition and book of the same title, which toured for 2 years throughout Illinois, sponsored by the Illinois Arts Council.

Her photographs have been purchased by the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and MOMA, as well as many private collectors. Her photographs have been published in various books as part of larger projects, such as Women Photographers (Abrams), and Changing Chicago, (U of I Press.) Her collaboration with Victor Margolin resulted in the book, Culture is Everywhere, released in 2002 (Prestel.)

As a professional artist, Carroll has been Artist-in-Residence in various parts of the world; In 1998, Carroll was selected as one of the four American Associate Artists by the Atlantic Center for the Arts, to be in residence at the Akiyoshidai Arts Village in Yamaguchi, Japan. In 1999, Artist in Residence at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, in Snowmass, Colorado, and in 2005 at Texas A&M University., and is currently Artist-in-Residence at Columbia College, Chicago.

She was the recipient of an Artist Fellowship Grant from the Illinois Arts Council in 2003 for her digital “Faux Film Posters,” which were shown at the Art Institute of Chicago in a one person exhibition titled,” Dark and Deadly.”  This exhibit was featured as an interview on WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio program; “Hello Beautiful,” in June 2004.

Her color photographic work documents subjects of popular culture such as Hot Dog stands, Elvis Tribute Artists, suburban lawns, and night photographs of low life places; motels, restaurants and bars. In 2012, Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America was published by Rowman, Littlefield and is the product of a long collaboration with Bruce Kraig, culinary historian. The hot dog stand photographs have been exhibited at many venues and are on permanent display at the Chicago History Museum. Professors Carroll and Kraig have appeared in many news outlets and have given informative talks about hot dogs and the American culture of food.

In 2005, Her book Living the Life; The World of Elvis Tribute Artists was published by Verve Editions. Her newer digital photographic work combines her pop culture interests using vintage Film Noir, humor and typography, while incorporating the earlier images of seedy locations at night. The series is a humorous look at current culture employing the pastiche of vintage film posters. For examples of the night resort pictures, go to

Carroll was trained in traditional photography, and most of her earlier work is documentary in approach. However, interspersed with the documentation of the outer world, she has also worked fervently in the studio. A new personal photographic series is about collecting and the obsession with “things.” The earlier images include a mounted 3-d object in a trompe l’oeil relationship with photographs. Again the work is humorous and draws upon a vintage world to comment on current popular culture by presenting precious and ordinary “collectible” objects. The "Constructed Ladies" are an elaborate series of still life images about domestic detritus. These pictures are a continuation of the earlier series of women hidden behind drapery or under domestic objects. In these series, the women become the objects; their identity fused with domestic objects.

Carroll has also curated several exhibitions, most importantly a large exhibition and catalogue of American still life photography titled, American Made: The New Still Life,  sponsored by JACA (Japan Art and Culture Association,) and was shown in several Japanese museums in 1993. In 1998, she curated the photography exhibition, “The Constructed Self; Who Do You Think You Are?” commissioned by the Contemporary Arts Council in Chicago. A catalogue accompanied the exhibition on the theme of alternative identities. In 2000, she curated “E2K: Elvisions 2000” an exhibition of Elvis related folk and outsider art at Intuit, the Center for Outsider and Intuitive Art in Chicago.

Photographers observe, comment, criticize, and make fun of the worlds we live in by interacting with reality, and visibly displaying those perceptions in images. My training was as a straight, documentary photographer, but I stray back into the studio to make up fictional worlds.

I believe that every artist has a moment or time which became a defining point in their life view, and as we struggle to discover it, we repeat work trying to either recreate that moment, or possibly redefine it. As our inner and outer worlds collide, photography seems to be the most satisfying way of expressing that convergence.

Perhaps there are several moments that define a personality, and I look deeply for each one as it emerges. Artists often go to great lengths to find their soul place. Fortunately for me in this work, I only have to return to Park Ridge, either metaphorically or in actuality to find my defining moments and place.

Anonymous Women: Reconstructed

The new work, of constructed home spaces, includes arrays of objects from the home that have gone out of control and subsumed the woman’s identity.

To purchase images from this series, please contact Spotte Art

Also, some works from this series as well as the Anonymous Women: Draped are available at OAC Gallery

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