After graduating from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1970, Judy Abbott joined Marian Locks Gallery, having her first solo exhibition there in 1981, with partner Doug Alderfer. 

In 1978, as an artist-in-residence at Rancho Linda Vista in Oracle, AZ, she was exposed to the ethno-history of indigenous people and the work of Georgia O' Keefe. She came to understand that art was not separate from the self, but internal and yet intimately connected to the place where one is.  Keenly aware of environmental issues and the work of Hudson River School painters, such as Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt, she began a lifelong pursuit of the inherent spirit, or genius loci, of a place.

In 1985 Abbott joined Staempfli Gallery in Manhattan, and had two solo exhibitions there (1986, 1990).

In 1993 she was in the exhibition, The Artist as Native, curated by noted artist and environmentalist, Alan Gussow.  This exhibition traveled to Babcock Galleries in New York City (1993), the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Owensborough, KY (1994), and other venues.

In 2001, Abbott participated in the exhibition Thomas Cole's Cedar Grove.

In 2007, she was an artist in residence at the Museum of Northern Arizona and was subsequently featured in the exhibition, Painted Journeys on the Colorado Plateau (2008-2009).  This traveled to numerous venues including the Woodstock School of Art (2008) and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, NY. (2014).

Abbott has received several awards for her work, including three Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants (1992, 2006, 2016), Bergen College's Native American Heritage Award (2004), and the Jean Arnold Foundation for Women Artists Award of Excellence (2010).   Her work is held in numerous collections, including the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Palmer Art Museum, the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, among others.

Abbott's work was featured in The New York Times in 1986 (reviewed by John Russel), 1994 (reviewed by Vivien Raynor), and 2004 (reviewed by D. Dominick Lombardi).  She was interviewed for the same publication by Kirk Johnson in 2001.

Alf Evers, author of The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock, wrote of Abbott's work, Among the contemporary painters who carry on the tradition of the Hudson River School of landscape painting, Judy Abbott is creating an original and a haunting body of work with a quality of her own.