Portia Elizabeth Iversen grew up in Illinois where she was an art student, she moved to Los Angeles in her twenties and worked in the art department for movies and television and won an Emmy Award for the Tracey Ullman Show. Subsequently she started Cure Autism Now in response to the autism diagnosis of her son Dov. After Cure Autism Now merged with Autism Speaks, Portia wrote a book about the effort to help her nonverbal son communicate through writing. She now has gone back to her love of art by making one-of-a-kind, decoupage designs under glass. Married to Jon Shestack, Portia has four children and currently lives and works in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, California.
After years of autism advocacy, research, fundraising and writing a book, I began to think about art again and one day I made my first collage in many years, titled: “The Girl Pulls the Strings Here” (a newspaper article title). And the collages have never stopped.
I began searching for a way to transform my love of collage into more permanent three-dimensional objects that I could share with friends and I remembered how much I liked decoupage. But decoupage seemed to fall between the cracks of being a hobby and a craft. It was never taken seriously at an art form.
And then I came across John Derian who had not only perfected the technique of reverse decoupage under glass, but had elevated it to an art and created a name for himself as a designer whose primary medium was decoupage and he had established a wildly successful business doing it.
So I set about learning. First I had to learn how to perfect the craft of decoupage so that I could capture my original collages under glass. There are really no how-to books on decoupage that would achieve professional level quality. The best one I found was Durwin Rice’s book ‘New Decoupage’. There were only a handful of DIY videos and John Derian’s videos while encouraging, kept the techniques to himself. And so after a year in the garage, up to my elbows in specialty glues and handmade glass plates, I managed to master the technique! I create each of my collages from dozens of unique images and my original artwork, there are stories within stories in each of these plates. And I love to tell a story.
It is my hope that when you visit Portiaelizabeth.com it will be like exploring a Chinese puzzle box, with every image you click on being a door to another compartment, revealing yet another little magical world, another little story and always something delightful and unexpected.
Read more about my many interests here...
I would love to see your photos showing how you display my plates and paperweights, your ideas for grouping them on a wall or arranging them on a coffee table, desk or nightstand, or whatever creative thing you do with them. I would love to show some of your examples on here on the portiaelizabeth website! Submit pictures to: Portiaelizabethgallery.com.
Portia Iversen along with her husband, Jonathan Shestack founded Cure Autism Now in 1995. They have 3 children together, one of whom is affected by Autism. Her other life as an autism advocate was critical in getting Autism research off the ground at a time when little existed. In 2007 she published the book Strange Son about her nonverbal son and how he began to communicate at age nine.