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Painting Major Emerges from Medical Crisis with Solo Exhibit

Painting Major Emerges from Medical Crisis with Solo Exhibit

Posted: March 23, 2018

On July 5, 2016, Buffalo State senior Ali Lazik awoke in her Williamsville home to a puzzling and painful reality. Her skin felt like it was burning, extreme pain coursed through her body, and she couldn’t stand without fainting.

Although she had lived with Type I diabetes since childhood, this was something new and frightening. Her mother took her to multiple doctors before Lazik finally received a diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota: autonomic neuropathy, a rare autoimmune disease that occurs when the nerves that control involuntary bodily functions are damaged.

“I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even watch TV because I was in so much discomfort,” Lazik said.

The worst part for the painting major and psychology minor was that she didn’t have the energy to paint. “Painting is my life,” said Lazik. “I felt really purposeless during that period.”

Taking a leave of absence from school to recover, she had a lot of time to think, and mostly she thought about painting. That helped her get through her ordeal. It also gave her an idea: She would post on Instagram and put up flyers asking if anyone wanted to be painted.

The response was strong, and before long Lazik once again had a brush in hand. She painted one oil portrait. Then another. Then another. By the time she had finished five weeks later, Lazik had painted 27 portraits in all, many of them Buffalo State students.

All 27 are on display in the solo exhibit “A Portrait a Day Keeps the Depression at Bay” in the Margaret Bacon Gallery in Upton Hall. It will be on view through March 31.

Since the exhibit opened on March 18, Lazik has heard from other students who want her to paint their portrait.

“It feels good to be back and to talk to people after having no connections for so long,” said Lazik who returned to Buffalo State full time at the start of the spring semester. Her prognosis for a full recovery is good.

“I wasted a year of my life dealing with this,” she said. “Now I’m making up for it. Going forward, I want to take advantage of being able to live and to paint.”

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