Missoula Independent: Carroll's Undercover Takes Back The Power

Carroll's Undercover Takes Back The Power

By Sarah Aswell                

To look at the pieces in Lindsey Myers Carroll's new collection is to wonder how in the world they were created. Each piece is an astoundingly clear, crisp and real-looking rendering of strange and surreal images—a steer head on a human body, sheep riding on a motorcycle, a fish encased in a light bulb. All have the feel of old sepia photographs or outdated scientific illustrations, though the content of the drawings makes it clear that these pieces don't originate from bygone photo albums or dusty textbooks.

Although it's difficult to believe upon viewing, each piece in the collection is simply created with charcoal, paper and large amounts of time—most with a subtle background wash of gray, blue or purple gouache. Carroll works from the upper left-hand corner to the lower right-hand corner of each canvas to prevent any accidental smudging and spends weeks perfecting the tiniest details of the works, from delicate birth feathers to technical wheel spokes.

The collection, Undercover Operations, will be on exhibit at The Brink beginning on Friday, Sept. 4. It represents both a surprising change in medium and shift of pace for the artist. For several years, Carroll focused her artistic efforts on ceramics. She liked the social aspect of the ceramics studio and the creative process ceramics involved. But two years ago she realized she needed a different outlet—a more solitary pursuit that gave her the opportunity to focus and reflect. And so, these works represent her return to drawing.

"Drawing is a meditative practice for me," she says. "Even when I was growing up, I got in trouble for drawing on the desks. It allows me to focus and process things in a productive manner. The moment that you make contact with the paper—it's a healthy thing for me."

This is more than just an artist finding a renewed way to express her feelings. Undercover Operations is striking in its detail, imagery and its execution. Each piece is a reflection on Carroll's meditations—about personal autonomy, societal expectations, cultural roles and feminism.

"With this body of work, I am trying to say something personal and autobiographical," Carroll explains. "It's ... a matter of what rises to the surface. Some of the elements function like masks, a costume that the figure puts on to play a role."

In "Staring Down Fences," Carroll depicts herself crouched barefoot in the corner of a large expanse of blackness, her face replaced by the miles-long gaze of a steer.

"There's something really powerful about putting this masculine image on my head," Carroll says. "I look pretty androgynous and I look poised to move. I was thinking about the struggle of being a female, of being surrounded by men in power. It wasn't that the men around me were necessarily keeping power to themselves, but that I wasn't taking it."

The finished product is, like many other pieces in the body of work, initially jarring. The contrast of the surreal steer-human with the minutely detailed and realistic outfit of Carroll's figure shocks and surprises. A viewer might not know the artist's underlying thoughts, but the pieces still evoke powerful emotion. For Carroll, the process of creating these images helps her reach personal epiphanies while rendering something beautiful.

"That realism of the moment [when] something pops on the page—the moment that you know it's going to be okay—it's the moment you start to believe," Carroll says. "It's the possibility of potential. I work for that moment over and over again."

Aswell, Sarah. “Carroll's Undercover Takes Back The Power”. Missoula Independent. 3 Sept. 2015: Arts. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.