Photographer examines realities of living with multiple sclerosis

Book Cover: Falling into Place, Self Portraits by Patricia Lay-Dorsey, with self portrait of white-haried woman holding a mirror

The Huffington Post recently featured Patricia Lay-Dorsey, who has been exploring her experiences with multiple sclerosis through her photography project, Falling Into Place: Self-Portraits. The project is a series of photos that examine the realities of Lay-Dorsey’s disease. According to Lay-Dorsey’s artistic statement, the motivation for the project lays in the fact that, “So many stories of persons with disabilities are told from the outside looking in. Often, we are portrayed as tragic and/or brave, and it is easy to lose sight of our common humanity. We are seen as ‘other’.”

Diagnosed in 1988, Lay-Dorsey began this project two decades later, in June of 2008. The project began with self-portraits intended to show “from the inside the day-to-day life of a person with a disability.”

Reflecting on her experiences with creating this photography project, Lay-Dorsey states, “What I had not taken into account was the emotional roller coaster I would ride in the process. As subject, I was surprised by my feelings of shame and ‘otherness.’ As photographer, my differences were interesting rather than shameful. As viewer of the photos, I saw how hard my body works to do what I ask of it. If anyone had to change one’s attitude, it was I.”

Selections of Lay-Dorsey’s work can be found in the Huffington Post’s article, as well as on her website.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.