“Art has brought healing to my life. But it’s not only about that. To put art ‘out there’… it’s fantastic to have others benefit from viewing it and learning about my story.”
Mary Luquette of Gettysburg believes art truly saved her life. It’s the key to her story…
“Growing up, I wanted to be a fashion designer but my parents said ‘no—be practical,’” she explains. “I always sewed, always had an interest in art and fiber, and although it wasn’t the focus of my career, I got into quilting.”
She says quilting and fiber arts came naturally to her. “I have always felt as though I ‘know colors’ and can put different colors and fabrics together.”
But woven into the fabric of her adult life, were the tragic deaths of five family members including her husband.
“Life didn’t make sense, so it didn’t make sense to continue quilting,” Luquette says. “But creating fiber art as a form of expression brought tremendous healing.”
“I was surprised that I was also successful. I was seeing a counselor for the grief and she asked if I was going to keep them (the fiber artwork) under my bed forever. So I started showing and selling them.”
The first art exhibition she entered was the Adams County Arts Council’s (ACAC) 2nd Annual Juried Arts Exhibition in 2005 and Luquette was awarded the prestigious “Best of Show.”
“It was an amazing feeling,” Luquette says. “Fiber art is more accepted today as ‘real’ art. But (nearly 10 years ago, in 2005,) I expected a painting or sculpture to win.”
That first award was a validation of her artistic talent; simultaneously, Luquette was also winning awards for her athletic ability. Running had become another outlet for her pain, and she became a successful triathlon and marathon competitor.
Even though Luquette had quickly become an award-winning artist, she realized two important things: “I wish art could pay the bills, but it’s very tough to make it financially as an artist,” she explains. In her ‘day job,’ Luquette works with autistic children.
Secondly, she realized that she needed to deepen her artistic skills through classes at Gettysburg’s ACAC.
“I decided I wanted to study the basics because I never really considered myself a ‘real’ artist. I thought it was important to learn the basics—color and form.”
Luquette signed up for drawing, photography and painting classes, and is currently in her third series of drawing classes. She encourages others to take advantage of continuing arts education. “My advice is to sign up,” she says. “People who say ‘I can’t’… all they need to do is practice. I don’t say ‘I can’t draw.’ Instead, I say ‘I don’t practice enough.’ That’s all it is.”
“You can’t expect to draw like DaVinci. Just like you can’t expect to run a 5K right away. You start walking and before you know it you’ll be running. I learned how to swim at the age of 60. I’m open to learning new skills. Everyone can learn–it provides an outlet. Some aspect of art is important to express who you are.”
Luquette has taken numerous fiber art classes including week-long sessions in New York state. She estimates that she’s created hundreds of collage and/or fabric art pieces by now.
“Last year my sister died of Alzheimer’s Disease at age 54. I’m inspired to continue creating, by life events,” she says. “The arts are a great way to express things when we can’t verbalize them.”
You could say that art is the key that unlocked her ability to cope with life’s ups and downs… a defining statement from Luquette, especially considering the meaning of “Luquette,” a Canadian/French surname that refers to the occupation of a locksmith.
A writer and photographer at heart, Karen Hendricks owns Hendricks Communications offering public relations, marketing and related services. A native of the Philadelphia area, she has called Gettysburg home for 20+ years. Karen earned a BA in Communications from Lock Haven University, and she pens the series An Eye for Art. Follow her on Facebook, tweet with her @KarenHendricks9 or check out her blog project Off the Merry-Go-Round.