Adams County Arts Council – Supporting the arts in Adams County, PA

Posts Tagged ‘fiber art’

Mary Luquette: Art is the “Key” to Life

Posted on: December 8th, 2014 by Karen Hendricks

“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…

Mary Luquette (Photo Credit: Karen Hendricks)

Mary Luquette (Photo Credit: Karen Hendricks)

“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.”

Mary Luquette 4She 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.”

Mary Luquette 1The first art exhibition she entered was the Adams County Arts Council’s 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.

Mary Luquette 6Secondly, she realized that she needed to deepen her artistic skills through classes at the arts council.

“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 with Sara Little. “I think every teacher here at the arts council is very passionate about their subject. With Sara, I love her honesty—she’s very critical and she will give you feedback on how to fix your drawings.”

Mary Luquette 5She encourages others to take advantage of the wide range of classes available at the arts council. “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.”

Mary Luquette 3Luquette 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.

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To check the ACAC’s list of current classes, click here

To contact Mary Luquette, click here for her email address

To learn more about her story, click here for JourneyThroughGrief.com

Mary Luquette 2

In the Artist Spotlight: Debbie Westmoreland

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by Karen Hendricks

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You could say that everything Debbie Westmoreland does, she does with style.

From fashioning Barbie doll clothes at the age of six, to working for a major New York department store, and curating historical exhibits—all of these experiences have put her on a path that recently brought her to Gettysburg where she now shares her creative gifts through the Adams County Arts Council (ACAC).

Detail, "Floral Abstract", wool and silk

Detail, “Floral Abstract”, wool and silk

By day, Westmoreland may be one of the friendly smiling faces visitors encounter when they enter the ACAC and are greeted by support staff. But Westmoreland is also part of the huge network of talented instructors who lead classes at the arts council. She has taught interior design classes for adults as well as fashion design classes for the children’s afterschool and summer programs. Additionally, her textile art has been featured in numerous ACAC exhibits. And she continues to learn and grow as an artist, by taking classes from other arts council instructors.

“I’ve always been interested in textiles, fashion and history,” the Gettysburg woman explains. “And my career path is an example of that… but being in this environment has given me the confidence to truly pursue being an artist (for the first time),” she explains.

Fiber art by Debbie Westmoreland

Fiber art by Debbie Westmoreland

It’s been a long, winding road for Westmoreland, who learned how to sew at a young age, from her mother and grandmothers as she grew up in the Reading area. “My Pennsylvania German heritage made me appreciate the importance of textiles,” she claims.

Even though her heart was in the fashion industry, her head steered her towards a more practical college major—design and merchandising—at Drexel University, Philadelphia. While working in retailing for Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, she realized she needed a creative outlet. So she decided to go back to school for her BFA in interior design from the New York School of Interior Design.

After working at several design firms in New York and New Jersey, Westmoreland again sought a more creative path—with a twist. “I realized I wanted to tie my love of history into my work.” She again headed back to school, studying at Seaton Hall, for her Master of Arts in Museum Professions.

This led to a position she describes as “one of the most creative experiences I’ve ever had”–Curator and Collections Manager for the Morris County Historical Society in New Jersey—a position she held for 13 years.

In 2011, when her husband reached retirement age, the couple decided to relocate to Gettysburg. “This area is a welcoming and nurturing setting for artists,” she explains. “It’s hard for me to create in a crowded, fast-paced environment, but Adams County is a comfortable environment, (more conducive to producing artwork).”

In addition to exhibiting her work periodically through members’ shows at the ACAC, her stylish fashions and textile artwork can both be found at A&A Village Treasures, Chambersburg Street, Gettysburg.

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“I feel as though I’m finally underway as an independent artist—it’s another step or chapter in my career,” she says. All achieved with her ever-evolving flair for style.

To contact Debbie Westmoreland: westmorelanddebbie (at) gmail.com

"Fantasy Turquoise," a wrap by Debbie Westmoreland

“Fantasy Turquoise,” a wrap by Debbie Westmoreland

 

Detail, "Fantasy Turquoise"

Detail, “Fantasy Turquoise”

 

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