Covid’s icy grip was wrapped tight around Main Street in downtown Hillsboro tonight. Looking up at the old Morgan and Bailey building did not help much as a freezing mist enveloped the grand old structure’s upper roofline and ancient details. We are two days into the second statewide shutdown of our restaurants and the Main Street nightlife and human activity have come to a standstill. Heading West up the sidewalk to the old county courthouse only seemed to encourage the darkness and the cold; an about-face quickly followed.
Making the turn worked out to be fortuitous for a second story light seemed to pour warmth into the abyss- like a lighthouse beacon crossing the coastal veil. Through that window shone the brightness of a bigtime Hillsboro talent. One of the pandemic’s worst enemies was working in her studio and knowing that eased Covid’s grip.
Hillsboro artist Elizabeth Higgins is a force to be reckoned with. Her art and her teaching have been shining throughout this long difficult year. There are many quotes about the healing power of art and most of them apply to the current situation we find ourselves in.
“We are in a time once again where our need for the arts is growing more and more apparent. Controversy and anger and fear seem to swirl around us these days in large supply. This has happened plenty of times in our history. We have needed and sought the healing and teaching power of the arts for a long time, perhaps forever.” ~ Robert Lynch, President and CEO, Americans For The Arts
“The arts are a critical component of healthcare. Expressive art is a tool to explore, develop and practice creativity as a means to wellness.” ~ Wellarts Association
Since moving into her art studio in downtown Hillsboro last July, watercolor artist Elizabeth Higgins has been developing her toolbox as an art instructor who approaches art as wellness. Elizabeth’s passion for teaching centers around her belief that all of us have a creative voice within ourselves that needs to be recognized and celebrated. She loves to nurture artists of all ages along their paths of self-expression and creative discovery. As a teacher, Elizabeth encourages others to have fun creating, being open to possibilities, and being confident in their own creative expression. She is always inspired when teaching young children, who are unfettered by judgment or thoughts of what makes art “good” or “right.” This is the outlook she strives to share with all of her students, regardless of age or ability.
During COVID, Elizabeth has been teaching watercolor and nature journaling classes on-line via Zoom, through various cultural organizations such as the Walter’s Cultural Arts Center, Hoyt Arboretum, and for her own following of students. Her experience teaching during this time has reinforced her belief in the power of creative expression. For Elizabeth, art is absolutely crucial to her well-being and sense of purpose. Through her weekly nature journaling classes – which are focused on mindfulness, being in the moment, turning off the inner critic, and just letting go – she has helped many students cope with these challenging times’ difficult emotions and stress. Creating and encouraging others to discover their own creativity is a way for her to fill her life with hope, joy, and optimism, a way in which to serve and help others. Creative expression is scientifically known to be a readily-accessible way in which to pump up our brains with feel-good chemicals.
Elizabeth has lived in Hillsboro since 1999 and has dreamed for many years of having her own working artist’s studio in the downtown core. Her studio and classroom are located in the old Crown Plaza building on the corner of 2nd and Main (205 E. Main St). A complete list of her classes can be found on her website at www.elizabethmhiggins.com/classes She is available for teaching and speaking about mindfulness-based art instruction for individuals, groups, classrooms, and corporations. Elizabeth’s artwork can be viewed on her website and social media and in her studio by appointment and at Catherine Bede Gallery, also in historic downtown Hillsboro.
Art is the Yin to Covid’s Yang. And Elizabeth Higgin’s is leading the way.
Editors Note: Hillsboro is becoming quite a center for the arts. Our community is rising up through this renaissance and it has been amazing to see the progress. Look for the Herald to feature organizations, artists, galleries, theater events, live music, history, cultural happenings, and everything that goes into our most diverse community. Together we will celebrate as many great stories as we can through our work. If you have a great art story, event, outstanding person, or news tip please contact us here!