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Members of Riverbrook’s 2017 photography club are delighted to announce their forthcoming show, Exceptional Photography, at the Otis Library and Museum! The club, assisted by staff member and photographer Stacy Surber, used both traditional and adaptive photography techniques to help women with intellectual disabilities develop their photography skills. Works by Noel, Louisa, Katie and Kathy will be on display for the month of September at the library, located at 48 North Main Street in Otis, MA. The public is invited to join us for an opening reception on Saturday, September 2nd from 12-2 PM. Meet the artists, peruse and purchase their work, and enjoy light refreshments in good company.


How the Photography Club Got Its Start

by Stacy Surber

Winters can be long in the Berkshires, without much to do for those of us who do not ski, snowshoe, or like being in the cold. Winter storms, however, bring their own beauty and taking pictures brings that beauty to life.

Two years ago, Noel Gilson commandeered a camera and began snapping pictures of vehicles covered deep in snow, therapy dog Coco Chanel playing in snowbanks, and icicles dripping from the roof tops. And with that, Riverbrook’s photography club was born.

We started by going around town taking pictures of what interested the women. Our first public showing of photos was in Pittsfield where Noel joined the Art Walk along with her friend Francessca. Both artists sold a lot of their work the first night and we had an amazing reception with family and friends. Since then we have had art shows in Great Barrington, Otis, Lee, and Sheffield.

Club members have moved on to photograph such things as waterfalls, landscapes, lakes and the sky. This has been a wonderful program that is fostering friendships, kindness and excitement through the eyes of Riverbrook’s finest and the community in which they live, work and play.


About the Artists

KATHY HAMICK was born in Chicago, Illinois and got her talent for photography from her mother who is also an artist. She loves to take pictures of people, especially children and share them amongst her family and friends. Some of the photos she has captured here today are ones she came upon while out hiking with friends in nature. Kathy states, “When I am out in the woods I take pictures because it makes me happy.” This summer she entered her second year in the Photography Club at Riverbrook. Kathy is a very much into community involvement having recently taken part in a Swim-a-thon where she raised over $800 for adaptive equipment at Berkshire South.


LOUISA HASTINGS MILLONZI  was born in New York City to a family of artists that molded her appreciation of the arts and promoted her ability to follow her dreams. Her appreciation of a good photo is unique so it is not surprising that she has chosen to participate for the second year in the Photography Club. This year she even upgraded her camera in search of the perfect shot. Always eager to master an experience, Louisa approaches picture taking with her usual energy and enthusiasm. In addition to photography, Louisa enjoys painting, public speaking, writing and the performing on stage.



NOEL GILSON was born in Bethesda, Maryland to a military family, which promoted a love of travel and exploring. She herself is an explorer with a vivid curiosity of all things that grow, go and with an on/off switch. Noel’s aptitude for technology is impressive! Legal blindness does not deter her from pursuing photography as she is able to see shapes and shadows and the effect that light has on altering images. An amazing athlete, Noel enjoys being outdoors, hiking and swimming. A founding member of the Photography Club, Noel is proud of her work and is happy to share with others her unique view of the world.


KATIE ANN FLYNN was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts and spent many hours at the Worcester Girls Club enjoying a variety of arts and crafts programs. These programs developed an interest for Katie in different types of arts. She enjoys using her hands and imagination when creating sculptures and paintings. In addition to art, Katie enjoys sports, animals and spending time with family. Katie recently started gardening and taking care of the plants and flowers around the Stockbridge Town Hall. With her eye for colors, shapes and nature, she joined the Photography Club this year and eagerly purchased her first point and shoot camera.



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