Patty Gozzola Photographs
Patty Gozzola was born Patty Abbot in Fort McLeod, Alberta in 1947 and raised in Lethbridge. Married at 17, she became Patty Servant – as she was known during her years at MPA – and had her first son at 18 and a second two years later. During this stressful time she divorced, suffered through depression, and was a patient at Ponoka, Alberta’s provincial psychiatric hospital. Coming back to Lethbridge after her time in Ponoka, Patty completed high school and became a university student before moving with her two sons to Vancouver. There she got involved in left-wing, grassroots politics, and found MPA, where she worked until 1987 as Drop-In Coordinator, Residence Coordinator, and Housing Coordinator. Then she took a break from social services and became a courier for several years. From the early 1990s until her retirement in 2014 Patty worked at a safe house for street-involved youth funded by Family Services of Greater Vancouver.
Patty’s knowledge of names and life stories of past MPA membership is vast. As her photo collection makes clear, her personal life was closely connected to the group in the 1970s and 80s. Patty lived for some years above the MPA Drop-In at 6th and Yew in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood and found partners and many friends in the organization. Patty was a key MPA storyteller in the 1977 NFB documentary about MPA, Mental Patients Association. As an MPA Founder, Patty appeared in and helped create the 2013 MPA documentary, The Inmates are Running the Asylum. Her full interview from the MPA Project and her interview transcript are in our Video section. Along with her friend and former MPA coordinator, Arthur Giovinazzo, Patty participating in the 2013 Legacies of MPA Exhibit at Vancouver’s Gallery Gachet, speaking to interested gallery visitors.
Patty generously shared personal photographs from her time at Ponoka and her MPA days with the After the Asylum Project and Madness Canada. Her Ponoka photographs were taken with a simple camera using black and white film and are a unique glimpse into patient relationships in an institution on the cusp of change. Personal photographs taken in the 1970s and 1980s, when Patty’s life was centered around MPA, were primarily taken with a colour film and reflect the rich social life which Patty enjoyed through her connection with the organization. However, an addition group of black and white images testify to Patty’s interest in developing and printing black and white photographs during this period – which she did in the MPA’s own darkroom at the Kitsilano Drop-In. Patty’s 1970s black and white photographs presented here represent only a fraction of the images that she took, many of which found their way onto the pages of In A Nutshell, the organization’s monthly tabloid newspaper.