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Spotlight On ... Peggy Chun
Best. Life. Ever.

 

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  Photo courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser.  

 

May 17, 2018 - Honolulu, Hawaii 

Peggy Chun’s goal in life was to create something beautiful every day. Known for her lovely and whimsical watercolors that captured the beauty and essence of Hawaii, Peggy was at the height of her career when she was diagnosed with ALS in 2002. Although the diagnosis was heartbreaking, it was not a complete shock as Peggy had familial ALS. Her maternal grandfather, mother and her twin sister had all died from this form of the disease.  Her twin sister, Bobbi Segler, had been an acclaimed and award-winning painter. Bobbi was diagnosed in 1986 shortly after their 40th birthday and died just a year later. In fact, Peggy did not become a visual artist until after her sister’s death. Shortly thereafter, Peggy started taking art classes and fervently immersed herself in art, becoming one of Hawaii’s most beloved artists.

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Peggy Chun painting with paintbrush in mouth. Photo courtesy of Heidi Chang.

 

 

As her disease progressed, she lost the ability to paint with her hands, so she would use her mouth. When she could no longer do that, she would use a computer program to read her eye movements or find ways to instruct her collaborators to create for her. She never stopped painting. As she wrote on her website, “After all, you don’t paint with your hands, you paint with your heart.”

Peggy approached life as art. To her, everything was an opportunity for creative expression. In even the most mundane or difficult aspects of life, Peggy painted her life with colorful strokes. Kimi Morton, Peggy’s daughter-in-law and primary caregiver, shares that instead of preparing for her telemedicine visits with her doctor “she would be completely preoccupied with spelling out on her spell-board to her caregivers which costume she wanted to surprise Dr. Davis with once that camera went on.”

In Peggy’s six years with ALS, she brought awareness to the disease by living her life with gusto and sharing her creations with the world. Peggy, along with friend and writer Shelly Mecum, created a children’s book, “The Watercolor Cat.”  The book (as told from the view point of her cat, Boo) depicts Peggy’s transitions in the way she approached her art as her ALS progressed. It also captures her “strength and resolve in confronting the debilitating disease.”

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  Photo courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser.  

 

Although Peggy died in 2008, her enthusiasm for life continues to inspire her surviving family, friends, community and the world. You can find “The Watercolor Cat” here, and Peggy's other artwork can be found at this link: www.peggychungallery.com. Peggy's memory and inspiration will accompany us this Saturday night as we celebrate Hawaii's artists and ALS 'ohana at Night at The Royal.

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  Photo courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser.