This year’s poster for the Golden-Meadow Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo features artwork by world-renowned Louisiana artist, Christy Boutte. The rodeo’s print of her painting titled “Little Pass Lighthouse” truly shows Christy’s tremendous talent to anyone who observes it. However, it doesn’t show the adversity she’s persevered through since she was just 13-months-old.
At that age, Christy was diagnosed with spinal meningitis. Prior to the diagnosis, she nearly died because the doctors misdiagnosed her illness before they figured it out. This ailment caused her to lose her hearing.
When Christy was three-years-old, her parents moved their family from Meridian, Miss. to New Orleans so she can attend a specialized school for the deaf that focused on oral communication. She later picked up sign-language when she moved to a traditional elementary school that provided a program for deaf children. She also picked up her ability to lip-read and went on to not need an interpreter throughout her middle and high school years.
“I won’t sugar-coat it. It wasn’t good or fun,” Christy says about her adolescent years. “People are uncomfortable with others that are different, especially children. Thankfully, my family and a few close friends helped me through it.”
After developing her passion for art in high school, Christy went on to attend the well-established Ringling College of Art & Design. There, she further crafted her artistic style and became the school’s first deaf student to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
In 2001, after she graduated, Christy started Art by Christy—her successful business that is still thriving today. Brock Boutte, her husband, joined the business in 2006, doing framing, graphic designing, and artist representation. She says Brock was the first guy who accepted her for who she was, disability and all.
They first started dating when Christy was a senior in high school but lost touch while she was attending Ringling. Fortunately, they reconnected in Austin, Texas and later moved back home to Louisiana to get married and start a family.
“Christy was always a tall, model-like beautiful girl with a heart of gold. I tell everyone she has always been way out of my league,” Brock opens about what drew him to Christy. “However, due to her being deaf, many guys were too intimidated to try to talk to her. Their loss was my gain.”
Her work over the years represents Louisiana’s culture to the fullest. She also displays an impressive assortment of artist techniques that is detailed on her website, artbychristy.com, “While still enjoying palette knife painting, she now uses her fingers as brushes which gives the painting movement and evokes emotion… In addition to traditional paint, Christy works with metallic, gold leaf, Italian glass beads and, more recently, has been finishing her pieces with a resin coating.”
Christy’s representation of Louisiana life and her marvelous skillset garnered the attention of the rodeo.
“I am honored anytime someone would like me to create something for them. I treat it as a great responsibility that the Lafourche Chamber Foundation trusts me to create a painting that will do this beloved event justice,” Christy says.
Even though Christy says the fine art industry is male-driven, she still managed to achieve major feats while being a deaf female fine artist, which makes her “very different.”
“Just persevere and be undeniable. Like the old saying goes ‘Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it,’” she says for anyone going through ailments or who has a disability. •