Cazenovia College’s Summer Art Series will open with a one-day, one-woman show, “A Hundred Thank Yous: a gratitude project by Lori Portka,” from 2 to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 16, at the Cazenovia College Art Gallery in Reisman Hall, 6 Sullivan St, Cazenovia.
For the past year, Portka has been painting her gratitude for one hundred people who have made a difference in her life. She first conceived the project after hearing about a woman who, in an effort to fight depression, started a year-long photographic project – taking one Polaroid photo every day of something she felt grateful for. She posted the project on flikr.com, and word began to spread, with others taking on projects of their own. Portka says, “I was intrigued, but on a deeper level, this project seemed like a natural thing for me to do. Part of my spiritual practice is gratitude – it is central to how I want to live my life. And it fits that I would do a gratitude project with my artwork because gratitude and happiness are such a big part of my life as an artist. My intention is to uplift people through my art; I want my artwork to evoke feelings of joy and sweetness.
”Portka says she wanted to challenge her endurance and stretch her ability to be creative. “I wanted to see what it would be like to do a huge body of work. I figured I would be changed by the end of it and I am! It brought me to a new understanding about how important gratitude is and has given me much more confidence as an artist. I'm also very excited to see how people react to receiving a gift of art and gratitude when I give my paintings away after the exhibition.”
Hailey and Andrew Bartholomew, of Brisbane, Australia, own You Can’t Be Serious, specializing in photography and filmmaking. It was Hailey’s Polaroid project that inspired the couple’s “365 Grateful,” a film about uncovering what happens when ordinary people unlock the remarkable powers of gratitude. Their film will cover Hailey’s personal journey and include the stories of many people whose lives have been impacted by gratitude, one of whom is Lori Portka.
The You Can’t Be Serious team will visit Cazenovia College to film Portka’s exhibition and talk to the people for whom she made the 100 paintings. Portka says, “Hailey saw and liked my artwork. All the pictures are happy, full of the things I’m grateful for. When I decided to take this on, I wanted it to be something big.”
Portka was at first a bit overwhelmed by the commitment she made, but as she was nearing the end, she realized that the project itself had given her another thing to be grateful for. “I have a greeting card and online art business, and most of my paintings fall neatly into the categories of greeting cards.”
On her website, Portka writes about her personal journey through heartache and healing with the help of her art. (http://loriportka.com/about-2/) Now she can write, “I am so grateful for this life here; doing work I love and watching my creative dreams open up and become real.”
The Cazenovia College Art Gallery in Reisman Hall hosts the College’s Summer Art Series, sharing gallery space with area artists. This summer, the Cazenovia Watercolor Society will show member’s work on three weekends, June 29 to Aug. 5, hours: Fri., 6-8 p.m., Sat., Sun., 1-4 p.m. Academic year exhibitions begin Sept. 6.