Born in Washington, DC in 1942, Patricia Lay-Dorsey brings her training as a social worker (MSW, Smith College School for Social Work, 1966) and over three decades as a visual artist to her work as a photographer. From 1976-79 Patricia studied fine arts at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Following her studies, she was an award-winning painter, exhibiting and performance artist, art reviewer, and teacher of art classes and creative workshops. In 2006 Patricia got serious about photography and has not looked back since. Her photographic practice focuses on seeing herself and others from an insider’s point of view.
Falling Into Place, Patricia’s self-portrait essay on living with a disability, was awarded 1st prize in the Emotions category of Prague’s 2013 Photo Annual Awards, and 3rd prize in the 2010 FotoVisura Grant for Outstanding Personal Photography Project. It has been featured in Newsweek Japan, the Arts section of the Huffington Post, ABC News online, CBS News online, The New York Times Lens blog, Vogue Italia, The Daily Mail online, New Mobility Magazine, Feature Shoot, Burn Magazine, Slate Magazine’s Behold blog, and the China Photographers Association International website, among others. Dan Damon of BBC World Update conducted a radio interview with Patricia that was broadcast globally on August 4, 2014.
In November 2013 Patricia’s self portrait book, Falling Into Place, was published by Ffotogallery in Cardiff, Wales and is being distributed worldwide. In 2016 the book became part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art library collection in NYC. Patricia is currently using her book as a springboard to give slide presentations and facilitate interactive discussions about disability, self-image and creativity with students in high schools and universities, members of disability organizations, healthcare professionals, corporate employees and community groups. Please contact Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in discussing possible presentations.
Falling Into Place has had solo exhibits at the 2014 Lianzchou International Foto Festival in China, the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA, Fovea Exhibitions in Beacon, NY, Swords Into Plowshares Peace Center and Art Gallery in Detroit, MI and Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, MI. Patricia’s photographs have been included by invitation in group exhibits at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, Ace Gallery in Los Angeles, Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York City, Detroit Center of Contemporary Photography, and the Final Wall Gallery Exhibition in Teplice, Czech Republic.
Active Elders, Patricia’s year-long photo project featuring participants at Detroit’s Hannan Center for Lifelong Learning, was exhibited in 2009 at the Ellen Kayrod Gallery. Patricia’s Dualities project was featured in LensWork Extended in 2008. She was the Detroit location scout for Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim’s 2009 documentary film, “It Might Get Loud.”
In 2007 Movement Detroit electronic music festi-goers started calling Patricia “Grandma Techno.” Since then, interviews, photos and videos featuring Grandma Techno have appeared on Daily VICE, MixMag, Music Fest News, EST300.com, THUMP/VICE, insomniac.com, the Detroit Free Press, Metro Times, WDM Sauce, Electronic Groove, everfest.com, and Synthtopia, among others. In 2015 a solo exhibit of prints from Patricia's ongoing electronic music festival photo project, They Call Me Grandma Techno, was held at The Heidelberg Project’s Exposure Gallery in Detroit. Patricia and her photos are featured in the mini-documentary, "They Call Me Grandma Techno," created in 2012-13 by Detroit videographer Clarence Johnson. In 2015 the film was shown at the Electric Roots Micro Music Film Festival sponsored by the Detroit Sound Project at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI. In collaboration with The Detroit Techno Foundation, 1xRUN and Paxahau, the producers of Movement Electronic Music Festival, a selection of Patricia's photos from Movement Detroit 2007-2018 will be published in the book, They Call Me Grandma Techno. It will be available through 1xRUN in July 2019.
Patricia and her husband Ed Dorsey have lived in the Detroit area since they married in 1966. Much of her photography features Detroit, notably her projects, Detroit: Hidden In Plain Sight, Detroit’s Young Musicians: the Civic Youth Ensemble and Occupy Detroit 2011. Eleven of Patricia’s Detroit photos are included in the book, A Detroit Anthology, edited by Anna Clark (Rust Belt Chic Press: May 2014). Patricia also has a photo pictured and discussed by Brooks Jensen in his book, Looking at Images, published by LensWork in June 2014. Patricia is active with “FACING CHANGE: Documenting Detroit,” having been invited to co-present her work with documentary photographer Eugene Richards at Detroit's Masonic Temple in May 2016 and to serve as mentor to emerging photographers in the Documenting Detroit Fellowship program from 2016 to the present.
Patricia can be followed on Instagram @patricialaydorsey. In 2014 she was an active member of Social Photography, a global group of 22 photographers who promoted dialogue about Social Media and Photography using posts on Instagram and other forms of social media. In July 2015 Patricia’s Instagram account @patricialaydorsey was featured on the Instagram blog and on @instagram. In August 2015 Time Magazine online introduced Patricia as the Michigan photographer to follow in their article, “Instagram Photographers To Follow In All 50 States.”
From October 2-9, 2015, Patricia was invited to be an Instagram artist-in-residence in Detroit for the “Looking For America” program at Cardiff’s Diffusion International Festival of Photography in Wales. On October 26, 2015 Patricia was one of 28 women whose photos and stories were exhibited at the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles as part of Instagram's launch of their #MyStory initiative encouraging women to share their stories. In the January 2016 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Patricia was one of the #MyStory women featured in the article, "5 of the Most Inspiring Women on Instagram."
Patricia's Tea For Two photo project was featured in LensWork Magazine November-December 2015 issue #121, with the addition of an audio interview appearing in Lenswork Extended. It was also featured on Lenscratch Fine Art Photography Daily in July 2015, and Square Magazine, issue 604, January 2016. Solo exhibits of Tea For Two were seen at the Davis Orton Gallery in Hudson, NY during the month of August 2016, and at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon throughout the month of December 2016. In conjunction with the Blue Sky Gallery exhibit the Tea For Two book was published and is offered for sale through Blue Sky Books online.
Photolucida/Critical Mass selected Patricia to receive their 2015 Rauschenberg Residency Award. For six weeks in March and April 2017 Patricia was one of eleven global artists of different disciplines who were invited to participate in the Rauschenberg Residency on the grounds of the world famous American artist Robert Rauschenberg's former home and studios on Captiva Island, Florida. While there she started a new project featuring photo collages that she calls The Hole In Between: Collages from the Rauschenberg Residency. Patricia and these collages were featured on Vogue Italia in December 2017.
Posting on Instagram her daily experiences as an inpatient at a hospital and a physical rehabilitation center in the winter of 2018 led to an invitation to share these images & captions in a solo exhibit at Brooklyn-based Photoville in September 2018. This exhibit - Grandma Techno Checks In - was curated by Krystal Grow and sponsored by the festival organizers at United Photo Industries (UPI). While onsite I was chosen to be interviewed by Suzee Skwiot for an Adorama Podcast titled, “Photoville Part 2: Patricia Lay-Dorsey (Grandma Techno).”