“Leaning” (Patty Carroll/Anonymous Women)

“Accessories” (Patty Carroll/Anonymous Women)

Eighty-seven years ago, Virginia Wolf wrote in her essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” “I would venture to guess that Anonymous, who wrote so many poems … was often a woman.”

In 2016, women have not been anonymous. They win gold medals, they top record charts, they fight in combat and they run for president.

But, as photographer Patty Carroll told In Sight, “we saw in the [recent] election, putting yourself ‘out there’ is a very vulnerable position in a hostile society.”

Carroll, 69, has spent the last 20 years investigating the complexity of women exposing themselves “out there.” Her upcoming book, “Anonymous Women,” by Daylight Books (January 2017) is a culmination of this work.

The book includes stark images of women hiding behind domestic objects, covered in drapes and camouflaged in domestic belongings and activities. “I am photographically creating worlds that debunk, critique and satirize these myths of claustrophobic perfection,” she said.

Carroll credits growing up in the suburbs of Chicago — the same town and time as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — as the basis for all of her work. She believes suburban life idealized homes and transformed them into harmonious abodes “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.”

Today, Carroll believes that homemaking’s role in society is more complex. “Staying home is a state that some women also aspire to as a place of power, while others abhor because of its prisonlike atmosphere,” she said.  But in all cases, she added, “women need ‘a room of their own.’ “


“Cake Plate” (Patty Carroll/“Anonymous Women”)

“Lagoon” (Patty Carroll/“Anonymous Women”)

“Lily” (Patty Carroll/“Anonymous Women”)

“Planty” (Patty Carroll/“Anonymous Women”)

“Killim” (Patty Carroll/“Anonymous Women”)

“Tea Party” (Patty Carroll/“Anonymous Women”)

“Platey” (Patty Carroll/“Anonymous Women”)

“Chandelier” (Patty Carroll/“Anonymous Women”)