Award-winning artist Peggy Chun leaves behind an extraordinary legacy as one of Hawai’i’s most beloved and prolific artists. Through an immense body of work, primarily her vibrant watercolor paintings, Peggy captured many of Hawai’i’s beautiful tropical landscapes, colorful whimsical themes, and playful animal compositions. Peggy’s unique painting style can be characterized by her expertise in the delicate treatment of light, and bold use of color and form.
Peggy was a proud Signature Member of the Hawai’i Watercolor Society, as well as a member of the Association of Hawai’i Artists. In addition to watercolor, Peggy worked in a variety of mediums, including acrylic, oil, photography, collage, and sculpture. Prior to her work as a painter, Peggy owned a manufacturing company specializing in Hawaiian Christmas ornaments. From 1989-2000, Peggy’s watercolor, acrylics, and photographs were featured in over 34 juried art shows, including 14 one-women shows, and 12 group shows. Peggy won many prestigious awards including the Jean Charlot Award for Excellence in Composition and Design, for her painting entitled “The Moana”. Peggy’s work included dozens of private commissions throughout Hawai’i and California. She was also a contributing artist to The Honolulu Weekly.
Born in 1946, Peggy was originally from Lawton, Oklahoma. She relocated to Honolulu, Hawai’i in 1969; where she resided for 39 years, until her death. In 2008, after a six-year struggle with the neurodegenerative disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Peggy Chun died at age 62. Peggy created a variety of her most well-renowned artistic work during a period of severe muscular paralysis. Among this work is notably the 4 by 8-foot mixed media portrait of Father Damien de Veuster, also known as Saint Damien of Molokai; which was presented to Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, 2009. Entitled “The Damien”, the composition is a mosaic collage expressing the subject’s great humanitarianism. Peggy spent 18 months creating Father Damien’s portrait; working with 50,000 quarter inch pieces and assisted by 142 children from Holy Trinity School.
One of the most extraordinary elements of Peggy’s artistic legacy is that she never stopped painting; particularly throughout her accumulative, neurodegenerative paralysis from ALS. When Peggy lost the ability to paint with her right hand, she learned to paint with her left. When she lost motor function in both hands entirely, she painted with a brush in her teeth. Eventually, cutting-edge computer software created work through her eye movements alone. Peggy had a love and commitment to life and artistic inspiration that was not only remarkable, but profoundly historic.
“After all, you don’t paint with your hands, you paint with your heart.” – Peggy Chun.