Pathlight’s ‘This Is Me’ exhibit heads to State House, will feature photos of 20 people


For the Gazette

Published: 06-15-2023 5:58 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Evie Hawley recalls seeing her daughter Alice taking pictures in front of her portrait and those of her friends when they were on display four years ago at the Northampton Center for the Arts as part of an exhibit titled, “This is Me.”

Now, she’ll get to repeat the fun on Friday when she heads to Beacon Hill to see her portrait and 19 others that were part of the original exhibit put on by Pathlight on display in a room in the State House in Boston. The portraits in this latest “Portraits of Pathlight” exhibit have been on display all week.

Hawley is expected to accompany her daughter and other individuals from Pathlight on Friday to see the portraits that are being showcased. The visit will include an exhibit reception hosted by Sen. Jo Comerford and Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, both of Northampton. Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh and Department of Developmental Services Commissioner Jane Ryder also will speak at the event.

It will not be Alice’s first time meeting Comerford, as she marched alongside the senator during a Women’s March.

In an interview leading up to the event, Hawley reflects that “it’s so important that they are seen,” because “representation matters.”

Pathlight is an organization that supports people with developmental disabilities and their families in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties. Executive Director John Robertson said about the event, “Too often we see that people with disabilities are pushed to the edge of the frame, or are viewed through a sentimental filter that oversimplifies the fullness of the person.”

Valle Dwight, Pathlight’s director of development and communications, added that “This project, and the portraits individually and collectively as a show, are a stunning visual representation of the person-focused mission of Pathlight.”

Dwight said that the project was conceived in 2019, and initially showcased 33 portraits at 33 Hawley St. in Northampton where the Center for the Arts is located. With this project, the team at Pathlight wanted to, in Dwight’s words, “make visible the people that we served.”

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While the 2019 exhibit maintained its position for about a month, it was stalled from opening anywhere else by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Pathlight found alternative ways to highlight their community members by using the portraits in three calendars between 2020 and 2022.

Recently, however, the team at Pathlight got in touch with Comerford’s office, and together they organized the showcase of 20 of these portraits at the State House. Several of the people featured in the portraits will attend the reception via transportation provided by Pathlight. Additionally, Comerford has arranged for these individuals to receive a private tour of the State House.

Dwight stated that the Pathlight team is “really excited,” that the portraits are “getting this level of recognition.”

To view the photos that are part of the Pathlight Portrait project, visit