Patricia Lay-Dorsey: Falling Into Place

Falling into Place
Patricia Lay-Dorsey
January 17, 2013–February 3, 2013

Opening reception 7-8:30 PM
Members Galley talk 6:15 Patricia Lay-Dorsey


Patricia Lay-Dorsey


Patricia Lay-Dorsey

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Patricia Lay-Dorsey was a marathon runner, long-distance cyclist, and dancer when she experienced her first unexplained fall in 1988.

Eight months later, she was diagnosed with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. She was 45 years old.

Lay-Dorsey used art and poetry to express feelings about the changes she was undergoing, progressing from a cane, to a walker, to a motorized scooter.

“It was not until I got serious about photography that I dared look intimately at my body,” she says. “I started taking self portraits with the intention of showing from the inside the day-to-day life of a person with a disability: that person being myself.”

A series of her self-portraits, Falling Into Place, is featured in the Griffin Gallery of the Griffin Museum January 17 through March 3. An opening reception with the artist is January 17, 7-8:30 p.m.

Lay-Dorsey uses a wireless remote-control shutter release and self-timer on her camera to capture herself involved in every day activities.

“It is one thing to photograph someone else’s struggles and quite another to turn the camera on your own,” she says. “There is no place to hide.

“I tell myself that any pain I feel is worth it because these photographs will give people an inside view of what it is like to live with a disability,” she continues. “I realize now I was doing it for myself. I needed to become intimate with this stranger, my body.”

Lay-Dorsey says taking self portraits has “helped me see my body for what it is: a warrior, an ally, my best friend. It is an amazing partner who works unceasingly to help me live the life I choose.”

“Sure, I have to respect its needs and limitations, but in return it gives me the freedom to be myself, my true self. What more can I ask?”

Paula Tognarelli, executive director and curator of the Griffin Museum, says Lay-Dorsey “boldly leads the viewer to bear witness to her aging and disabled body. These photographs are also a means for her discovery as if reacquainting with an old friend.”

“She can no longer walk or run marathons, but Lay-Dorsey moves whatever she can to make a dance,” Tognarelli continues. “In her 70s, she’s active, determined, and certainly no bystander in life. Her photographs are hopeful and vibrant and inspirational to those of us who need a dose of resilience every now and again.”

A gallery talk for museum members by Lay-Dorsey is at 6:15 p.m. January 17, prior to the opening reception for all exhibits.