Patricia Fortlage is an award-winning photographic storyteller and fine art photographer.  From her core belief that if you invest in women and girls, entire communities will be raised, Patricia has focused much of her career doing just that. From her powerful piece covering the female-led Othakarhaka Foundation in Southern Malawi to the stereotype breaking, female empowering Wonder, girl! Project, to a project on the often life-long after-effects of sexual assault on women, Patricia has promoted female empowerment one project at a time.  She has documented conditions and shared stories of struggle and success, helped to promote tourism in the poorest of nations, and overall, devoted her artistic work to furthering community development. Patricia’s hope is for the viewer to have an immediate emotional reaction to her work, as opposed to an intellectual reaction, one that will move the viewer and inspire them in how they themselves move in the world. She hopes to sometimes educate and inspire with her work, sometimes shock and surprise. At its most poignant, she strives to inspire positive change.  Her work has been published nationally and she has widely exhibited in solo and juried exhibits across the US.

Statement:

Lemonade, The Project… life with chronic disease

This is my story about life with chronic disease and disability. I would like it to serve as a love letter to the chronic illness community… especially the women who are most gaslighted by medical professionals and others in our communities at large. This is a photographic fine art series with careful attention to raising women up in the process. You see, I, myself, have a life-threatening illness. It is called Myasthenia Gravis and it has thrown me into the deep end of what life is like for women with disabilities/chronic disease. I would like to show that there is still beauty here, and power, and fight. That I have much yet to offer. Yes, there are challenges and there are truly gruesome moments… and some of that is shared as well… but I mostly aim to shine a spotlight on the resilience and fighting spirit and BEAUTY that still lives within me. There is even a bit of humor. I attempt to make lemonade out of lemons each and every day and I want to shine a special focus on that duality. In keeping with what drives me as an artist, my hope with this project is to educate and inspire.