b. 1961, Danville, IL
Conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll obtained her BS in minerals and land management, geology, and finance, with a minor in fine art, at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1986, having studied filmmaking with Stan Brakhage; she graduated from the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, with a MFA in 1989. She lives and works in New York City.
Carroll focuses on thematic concepts more than materials, and the range of mediums she has used include film and video, writing, performance, and architectural structures. She aims to stimulate active self-reflection in her audiences through explorations of human nature, familiarity, identity, absence, and sustainability. Her projects have ranged from placing a stolen vehicle in a New York forest to roaming the streets of Argentina while penniless and recording her thoughts with borrowed pen and paper. In a recent and several-year long project, Carroll had a house turned 180 degrees in a residential neighborhood of Houston, a gesture that questions the social and political position of architecture in everyday life.
Carroll is the recipient of numerous awards, including grants from the Pennies From Heaven Fund of the New York Community Trust (2006) and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York (1997); a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (2004); and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2003). Her solo exhibitions include Special Project No. 18 in the Busan Biennial curated by Roger Buergel (2012); Open Outcry Furniture, in collaboration with Simon Dance Design, R Gallery, New York (2012); Federal, State, County, and City, Third Streaming, New York, (2012); Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art, Smart Museum, University of Chicago (2012); and Prototype 180, Arthur Ross Architectural Gallery, Columbia University (2011). Group exhibitions include Model Theories, Ford Projects, New York, (2012); No Zoning, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2009); 100 Artists See God, circulated by ICI (2003–2005), Weather Report: Art and Climate Change, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (2007), and The Baghdad Batteries, MoMA PS1, New York (2010).