Catto Vanessa Houghton was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and obtained her BFA at Concordia University in Montreal, with a major in Painting and a minor in Art History and Theory. Since completing her undergraduate degree she has maintained an independent studio practice as a visual artist working out of both Walnut Studio's and Sterling Studios in Toronto, as well as living and working in San Francisco for a year in 2009/2010.
Houghton's most recent body of work, consisting of large scale abstract geometric paintings on stained wood panel demonstrate a departure from her previous and extensive body of work in contemporary portraiture. Her background in the visual arts prior to University was heavily founded in a more classical approach to the figure, which developed and became more stylized in her early twenties as she embarked on a series of portraits that occupied the next eight years of her studio practice. This body of work explored youth and cultural identity and the means in which it is shaped by social history, media and consumer culture. During this period Houghton was involved with Toronto's Hip Hop communities, exhibiting with Manifesto projects, as well as participating in live collaborative painting exhibits with top local graffiti artists. She was also working with classical portrait painting communities such as the Canadian Portrait Society.
She has been a two-time finalist and honorable mention in the Kingston Prize for Contemporary Portraiture as well as being featured on “Star Portraits” a production hosted by Bravo featuring leading Canadian portrait artists depicting a series of local and international celebrities. Her illustrations and images have appeared in EnRoute magazine, CocoLily, Shameless, and the Montreal Gazette, and she has exhibited works at such venues as The Spoke Club, Whipper Snapper Gallery, 111 Minna (San Francisco), The Toronto International Art Fair, The Arts and Letters Club and The Art Centre of New Jersey. Catto Houghton's current body of work references architecture, post-graffiti, screen printing, craft and patterning, Colour-field painting, Minimalism/Maximalism, and Austrian Seccesionist painting. She lives in Toronto's west end and her favourite things besides painting are sharks, cycling, new fiction and house music.