MY ART STORY by

Lucy Wong

Gilbert
Arizona

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Quilted U.S. flag.

Lucy Wong's Old Glory with the National Anthem embroidered int the white stripes, winning second place in the 2012 Veteran National Creative Arts contest. Photo courtesy of artist

I served in the United States Navy and worked with a variety of chemicals. When I got out of the Navy in 1984, I seemed healthy but three years later became very ill. Now 26 years later, I have used art therapy as my natural healer instead of medications. I have scleroderma. It is a chronic autoimmune disease which turns the skin hard and tightens the skin, and has the potential to cause serious damage to internal organs. The impact varies from one person where it can be fatal or maybe be an annoyance on a daily life.

I took up sewing at age 40—it is never too late to start to sewing. I have taken many art and craft classes because of its therapeutic and practical value. Living with a condition that never goes away, it is not uncommon to get down and feel depressed. When I saw what I made, such as a simple peasant top or purse, it completely boosted my demeanor without medications. Prescription drugs can cause adverse effects on the human body, but making projects is a natural way to heal or to maintain health status.

I have won many award ribbons for my quilts and wearables. It first started out by taking sewing classes to make wearable arts. I took a lot of classes at JoAnne Fabrics, Hancock’s, quilt shops, and more. I would buy clothing patterns for 99 cents when they were on sale. While watching TV, it was fun taking the patterns and cutting out the pieces. Later, I submitted my sewing tips to Simplicity pattern contests. I won free patterns of my choice. Soon after I made display items for Hancock’s store in Oceanside, California.

Later, I took fashion design classes at Palomar College in San Marcos, California. I took pattern making and later participated in the yearly fashion show. I continued to sew non-stop and made prosthetic pants for the injured soldiers returning back from Iraq. Later I moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and joined the Havasu Stitchers guild for seven years. While with the Havasu Stitcher's, this guild and I made over 100 pairs of pants and I made 16 more on my own.

While living in Lake Havasu City, I took all the classes offered by the guild, the quilt shops, and other sources such as a Panamá quilt cruise 2009. On this trip, they had award-winning, world-wide quilt instructors teaching their arts and techniques. At this time, the Havasu Stitcher’s formed Quilting at the Lake, where national quilt and wearable art teachers taught their crafts too. I continued to take more classes.

In 2013, I moved to Gilbert, Arizona, and joined the Arizona Art Alliance with their veteran programs, and later joined the Mesa Art League. I won first place in "I Love Mesa" contest for my collage that is on display at Margarita Grill on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. I have won Veteran National Creative Arts and Writing contests ribbons too. Art has given me my life back.