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Patrick Carrolls knitwear is an antidote to loneliness

Patrick Carrolls knitwear is an antidote to loneliness

 


Four years ago, writer and textile artist Patrick Carroll helped his father, who suffered from a neurodegenerative disease, arrange his physician-assisted suicide in California. It completely changed the way I functioned, he said, having to step in and deliver from my father's death. About a month later, pandemic lockdowns began; Isolated and grieving, Carroll distracted himself by learning to knit using a 1970s Studio SK-560 machine he found on Craigslist. Most days he would make a new garment, many of them flesh-colored and bare, decorated with loaded language: a low-cut jumpsuit with eternity on it, for example, or a men's thong, its pouch adorned with the wrath of God.

Carroll, who is 34 and grew up in the Bay Area, posted photos of himself wearing the clothes on Instagram. He developed a small following, and designer Jonathan Anderson showed some of his sweaters in a show in spring 2023. I could see that what I was doing was fashionable, Carroll says. But it was also a way to be hot online, and part of its function was to end loneliness. Like many others during his quarantine years, he felt the Internet was the only place he could express himself and share his homosexuality. Disengaging from it was a long and strange process, he says. But I think a lot of people have experienced a similar thing.

Eventually, Carroll met her boyfriend online and decided he was an artist and not a knitwear designer. He now works out of a studio near downtown Los Angeles, where he moved after spending his twenties in New York as an SAT tutor and earning an MFA in fiction from the University of California, Riverside to complete the writing his first novel. Here, surrounded by cones of colorful cashmere, linen, and silk yarns that he often buys in surplus from European clothing companies, Carroll obsesses over words in a different way, inserting them into knitted panels of bigger and bigger which he spreads on wooden bars like canvases and calls them “image”. poem paintings. Although he is not represented by a gallery, he recently had five solo exhibitions, including one at the JW Anderson boutique in Milan during the Salone del Mobile design fair last month.

Unlike most fiber artists, Carroll favors simple techniques. He generally knits with a looser gauge than usual, a self-taught accident that allowed him to experiment with transparency, texture and lettering. And although he tries to develop his art, he draws more inspiration from artists like William Blake, Rene Green and Adrian Piper, whose work prioritizes language. Many of his pieces feature simple words, such as refusal or abandonment, which tend to trigger emotions and memories. They are immediately a reference for anyone who looks at them, he says. Like shame, he adds, pointing to the wall of his studio. The words are shiny Lurex, so very sparkly.

Even if he dresses the body less often, sex and sexuality remain at the heart of his practice. The artist chooses certain prancing terms, for example because he wants the pieces, when grouped together, to be not only as serious but also funny and flamboyant, a choice he highlights in extracts from quotes from queer writers such as Frank Bidart, Emily Dickinson, Derek Jarman and Essex Hemphill. Lately he has been trying to come up with his own short poems, but he often dismisses the results. However, he kept one recently, satisfied with the result: the existence of the past guarantees eternity to each soul, it is written in barely legible white letters inside a square framed in purple cashmere, as soft than the message it transmits.

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