I’ve been working with Portland Open Studios for five years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever met Erin Leichty. But she’s been invaluable as our link to New Seasons, one of our major supporters, and she’s tireless in her efforts. I’m glad to have this opportunity to get to know her a little better personally.
I asked Erin why she was an artist. “As soon as my hands could manipulate scissors, I began to create art with construction paper and glue, building and creating worlds my imagination could escape to. Growing up, I created art non-stop, but it was never a viable career in my parent’s eyes. They wanted me to be something practical- like an engineer. I tried that- but only made it through my freshman year of college before it became clear that a desk job was not for me. Now I have my art business and I am a contractor and designer for my business, Priority Design LLC. I get to design, build and furnish remodels and new homes.
“I have always been drawn to details, color and texture. There is nothing more entertaining to me than the ever-changing Pacific Northwest sky throughout our four seasons. I love the explosion of ideas that happen when you are creating. Out of nowhere, the BEST IDEA EVER comes rushing in, you grab it and try to make it happen. Sometimes it works, mostly it doesn’t, but there are always things learned along the way. I am a dreamer, a creator, a maker – that is who I am to my core.”
I asked if she found the artistic life lonely. “I found being a full-time artist to be very lonely and isolating, which is why I became a contractor. I love collaborating, but also having my alone time, so the blend of design and building helped me to find a happy medium of being social and being quiet. Building is a lot like creating a commission with a client.”
Her dream project is to do really big, provocative art for commercial spaces. “
I love making people stop and ask themselves a question. I love to make people be present to their own thinking- even if just for a moment because it is only when we are aware of our own stories that we can rewrite them.”
A pivotal experience for Erin was her show “Shadow Stories”, at Waterstone gallery, in 2015. “I decided to think outside the box and instead of an artist talk, I told my own personal story about what inspired my work and my struggle with childhood trauma and a life-long eating disorder. The talk was so well received, I had to do an encore presentation and from that was born my shows that are now chocked full of story-telling events from various writers and readers. I found people were hungry to share their own stories and listen and connect to others. Over the last 3 years of story-telling shows, I have made more friends and connected with more incredible humans than I can count.”