Please meet Abby Houston, an artist we have the pleasure of working with, as part of our Women's History Month series.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Abby Houston lives, teaches, creates art and raises her three daughters. Abby loves to find new methods of making everyday materials feel valuable. Found objects and unique surfaces on which to paint have expanded her practice over the last few years. Abby explores colors and themes found in nature, mothering and the balance of enduring the chaos of homelife. She loves using the colorful visual language to convey those messages in an approachable and tactile way. Her daily painting practice has helped her thrive through the transitions of her personal and professional life (and through a pandemic!), while also allowing her to make connections to the things she cares about in the world we live in: women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights, social justice rights, body positivity, mental health awareness, raising fierce & compassionate daughters, caring for our changing planet and instilling work life balance for her children and family.
When Abby isn’t making art, she is scavenging for supplies, going on walks to pick up leaves, hiking with her daughters to take photographs or driving across town to pick up some ornate item off of Craigslist. Abby will never pass up the opportunity to score a great deal at a garage sale and she is always game for rooting through boxes of items left on the streets of SE Portland. And yes, she once managed to make her husband carry home a kitchen sink so that she could use it as an art installation in their backyard.
Abby holds a MA in Art Therapy Counseling from Marylhurst University and a BFA from Pacific Lutheran University. She is a bad ass mother, a seasoned Art Teacher, Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Art Therapist. Upon concluding her 17th year of teaching in the Spring of 2022, Abby has left the teaching arena to focus full time on her growing art business and professional art practice.
Who are your biggest artistic influences? Much of my creative process has been guided by artists such as abstract Swedish artist, Hilma af Klint, Ukrainian sculpture artist, Louise Nevelson, Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama and the life and work of American artist, Georgia O’Keefe. Almost all of these women were left out of the art history texts of my art school years-so I want to always bring their influence into focus when sharing about my creative journey.
Where do you find inspiration? My biggest artistic inspirations are MY KIDS, my mother, grandmother and the natural landscape around me. From an early age I was taught to weave together my own story with a variety of materials-from knitting to painting, drawing & collage. I always love the fact that the creative process runs through the maternal line in my family. I hope to instill in my daughers the ability to create a process focused life that includes all types of creative endeavors.
What role does art have in today’s society? I believe the visual language of art has a responsibility to connect us to the human experience in a way that transcends other barriers to our existence. I believe in a process based approach to art where daily engagement in a creative practice can lead us to a more grounded and fulfilling life.
Who is a woman (or women) that inspires you and why? I find a tremendous amount of inspiration from women who are breaking down barriers through creative innovation and activism. Bisa Butler (fiber portrait artist), Megan Rapinoe (activist, athlete), Lisa Congdon (artist, activist) to name a few.
As an artist, what advice might you offer to other female artists? I find it so helpful to be bold and confident with my creative voice AND allow myself to receive feedback from others. So, be bold and also listen well.
You’re a mom to three daughters, how do you think we can inspire the next generation of women to make a positive impact in this world? I love the quote “As strong as the woman next to me” which really sums up my belief that when we support and champion one another as women we can do amazing things. I want the next generation of girls & non-binary kids to be able to claim their own self worth and identity through acts of kindness and inclusivity. I want that message to be loud and clear as they raise the generation after them. There are so many opportunities in the world where they can be helpers and find ways to advocate for what they believe in-but none of that is possible without a community of support around them.
Tell us, what’s your favorite Mightly piece? Definitely the Organic Cotton Legging with Reinforced Knee. What more is there to say, I wish I could get them in adult sizes!
Big thank you to Abby for taking the time to answer our questions and allowing us to learn more about her. You can read more about Abby and see her artwork at her website abbypainter.com