The Evolving Vision of a Kodiak Artist


Maggie Wall/KMXT

Nobody stays the same so you’d expect an artist to grow and her work to change through the years.

A former Kodiak artist once known for her pretty paintings of flowers and scenery now paints many abstract canvases filled with the blacks and reds of pain and anguish.

Houng came to Kodiak in the 1970s as a refugee from the Vietnam War. She taught herself to paint as a way to heal from the war and as a way to support herself and her young son.

People familiar with her Kodiak work will remember the water color flowers, the green leaves and the blue ocean. She also did a number of colorful prints of cannery workers and one especially comical one of the Harbormaster’s Building with fishing boats in the foreground. The couple getting it on in the one boat raised a lot of eyebrows among some of the community and laughter from other segments.

Houng says those colorful paintings represented that particular stage of her life. A diary of sorts documenting the happy times of her new life in America:

–(((Houng 1 :19 "The brush gave me…never understood what peace mean.")))

Houng left Kodiak and Alaska to see what the rest of the country held for her. She says she learned more about war and peace and how the Vietnam War affected her. Her painting during this period reflected the pain, the heartache and the blood-shed of war.

Then came the Gulf Wars in Iraq. Her new husband’s brother was killed in the first Iraq War. Her art once again became a diary of what she saw and experienced:

–(((Houng 2 :30 "I look at all…and record it.")))

More recently Houng documented the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Again, the dark colors of pain and loss.

–(((Houng 3 :58 But then the BP Oil Spill started…oil spill of the century.")))

Former Kodiak artists Houng.

I’m Maggie Wall.

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