Artist Christy Boutte
It is often said that greatness is forged through adversity. The incredible work of artist Christy Boutte exemplifies this belief. Christy Boutte has been creating art professionally for the past 15 years. A childhood illness led to Christy's profound loss of hearing at the age of one. Subsequently, many observers and critics of her work attribute her rapid artistic maturity to this loss of hearing and the many obstacles she has had to overcome. Christy's determination as a young girl and unwavering belief in herself has continued throughout her career, and led to many successes as an artist. While innately creative, it wasn’t until high school that her passion for fine art was born. Christy then went on to grow her love of and passion for art while attending the world-renowned Ringling College of Art & Design. There she developed a strong artistic style and, in 2000, became the school's first deaf student to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Her work is known and seen worldwide, but she prides herself on showing her work in her home state of Louisiana. Inspiration for Christy’s work comes from her surroundings, especially Louisiana and it’s rich culture. As a deaf artist, Christy’s intent is to engage the viewer to “see” sounds and “hear” color. In recent years, Christy has changed her style and technique. While still enjoying palette knife painting, she now uses her fingers as brushes which gives the painting movement and evokes emotion. The artist likes to describe her work as “expressionistic, impressionistic and fashionistic”. In addition to traditional paint, Christy works with metallics, gold leaf, Italian glass beads and, more recently, has been finishing her pieces with a resin coating.
“I became profoundly deaf at age 13 months due to spinal meningitis. I was born in Meridian, MS. My parents moved us to New Orleans when I was 3 years old so I could attend the Chinchuba Institute— at the time a top-ranking, progressive school for the deaf which advocated for oral communication.
At age 7, I transitioned to a traditional “hearing” elementary school which also provided a program for the deaf. This was my first experience with formal sign-language. While I participated in the deaf program, I relied more on my lip-reading skills and quickly mainstreamed to regular “hearing” classes where I did not have an interpreter; in fact, I did not use an interpreter throughout my middle and high school years. I went on to attend college at Ringling College of Art and Design as an Illustration major and was bestowed the honor of being Ringling’s first-ever deaf graduate to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Though I had always been creative, it wasn’t until high school that I fell in love with art. I had found an escape from silence. With the movement of my painting instruments- a brush, palette knife, fingers— the vivid colors and shapes— abstract or sharp— art became, for me, sound.
Becoming a professional artist was not a decision, it was, and remains, the medium of my soul.
I have worked professionally since 2002, opening my own gallery and frame shop when I was 28 years old, which is still thriving from our home in Gretna, LA where I live with my husband and our 2 young children.
I would say one of my greatest challenges, not only in my private life as a deaf person but even more so as a professional, is misinterpretation of my demeanor. Some find me aloof but this is truly and simply a language barrier— one without sound— and the very reason I strive to excel at what I do; where I inevitably stumble in the hearing world, I turn to personal expression through art. I can characterize being deaf as one would imagine being in a bubble - floating around, encapsulated in silence, not fully understanding (and wondering!) what is being said. The silence of being "left out" can be lonely at times but these challenges bring me back-- connect me-- to my art. I realize the importance of communicating and therefore I strive to express myself through my work. Giving and — in a way, also receiving — love through my art drives me to keep creating… this is the symbolism of the heart — the universal symbol of love— found in my signature and often hidden throughout my artwork, exemplifies all that I am; my true intentions and desire to share and communicate, and have others see sounds and hear colors as I do.”