National Academy of Needlearts

The Leader in Needlearts Education

NAN - National Academy of Needlearts

2001 Lifetime Achievement Award: Joyce Lukomski

It was indeed a privilege and honor for NAN to present the 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award to one who exemplifies the highest ideals of the Academy . . . Joyce Lukomski.

Click here to see some pictures of Joyce's work

Joyce is well know in the needlearts community for her outstanding teaching career, her leadership in many national needlearts organizations, and most especially, for her long career as a needlearts journalist.

She received her certification in crewel embroidery from Valentine Museum (now NAN) in 1978. From almost the very beginning Joyce was sought after for teaching on the national level. After a short stint as a counselor for Valentine Joyce was tapped to be the Assistant Director of Teacher Certification, followed by two more years as Director of Certification, and another two as Director of Education. She continues to serve as a counselor for the organization's candidates to this day. Joyce has taught at seminars for every needlework organization in North America, and is still one of the most sought after instructors on the national scene.

In 1981 Joyce was able combine her love of the needlearts with her formal training as a journalist when she became the editor of Needle Pointers, the house organ of the American Needlepoint Guild. She is noted for elevating the quality of that publication throughout her long tenure as editor. but her lifelong goals were finally realized in n 1999 when Joyce launched a new endeavor, her own needlepoint magazine which is entitled needlepoint now. From the very beginning this new publication was "hot" and it continues to be one of the most highly regarded publications in the world of embroidery.

Let us consider some of Joyce's thoughts upon receiving this notable honor

My education and background have always been in journalism, advertising, or some type of writing. How does a girl who has "ink in her veins" go from that arena to this testimonial?

Keeping on an even par with my love of writing has been my love of needlework. I was always writing "books" when I was a little girl, but it is strange that some of my best memories are of long, happy days of summer spent stitching at my Grandmother's house. I took to it like a duck to water...measured enough thread in the needle to go twice around the world . I was five or six years old in this scenario, so I had freedom to choose any of the colors from the wonderful selection in the five and dime store.

In college, I knitted argyle socks because that was the "in" way to pass time and relax from the pressures of school. One night when I sneaked out to do some embroidery I was caught by my roommate who taunted me with "what do you think you are doing?" I responded with "restoring my soul". How little did I understand the full of depth of that statement at that time in my life.

Years later in the pressure-packed newspaper and advertising world, I found that I always kept a piece of stitchery in a desk drawer. As tensions mounted, I would need to "restore my soul" so I would grab the needlework and head out to the ladies' room to indulge in a few moments of embroidery. I must have done this a little too often because a coworker asked me if I had a physical problem. I learned to be a little more careful, but the needlework was always a vital part of my life.

During my childhood it was something new to learn and something creative to do. During my college days and early career stages it was a relief from stress. When I lived in Europe and couldn't work at all, I found needlework even stronger than ever because I had more time to do it and it was a relief from boredom. Later as a "stay at home Mom", I realized that all of the just mentioned emotions came into play and needlework became one of the very strong forces in my life. As the children grew older, the joy of needlework continued and I even found the time to teach a class in a local needlework shop one day a week. I knew very little about teaching but managed to stay one week ahead of my students. Certainly I never intended to make a career of it!

Then my life changed forever when I discovered the Valentine Museum Assembly for Embroiderers and signed up for the teacher certification program. I was Alice in my own wonderland! I simply can't imagine my life without this monumental event.

Just this past week I heard a speaker say that when you are "learned" in a topic you are still studying it because the process of learning must be a continuous one. So it has been with me. Louise Downing was the Director of Certification and from Louise I learned to dream the impossible dream and to let my spirit soar. From the Assistant Director, Jody Adams, I learned the love that a teacher could share with students and how to make each person realize his or her own self worth. From Betsy Robb I learned how to truly listen and to survey a situation before leaping. From my assistant, Fay Andrews, I learned the worth of organization and the simple joy of stitching. From my eternal roomie, Peg Laflam, I learned a lot about color and the fun and excitement of trying something new. From Gail Sirna I am reminded about loyalty and unselfish service for the good of the group. And, recently from Jean Taggart I have learned the incredible power of positive thinking.

There has been quite a needlework movement that started in the mid 1970's. I honestly belief that when the history of our age is written, this will be called another "golden age of embroidery." I am not it, but how lucky I am to have been a part of it!

I was also lucky to be able to study with many sharing teachers...people like Chottie Alderson, Elsa Cose, Audrey Francini and so many other greats in our profession. And, there have been so many other giants of needlework who don't teach, but help spread the word --- like patrons of our art, Myrl Good and Leslie Durst. There are also giants who spend countless hours in volunteer work for guilds, organizations and other forms of education---outstanding people like Sue Strauss, Sara Ann Cohen and Jennifer Taylor.

It has been said that we become a little part of each person who crosses our path. I certainly hope so. I think I became a sponge and soaked up the essence of all of these unselfish leaders in our field. How lucky that I can become the conduit from all of them to my students and readers.

Many years ago I became editor of a guild magazine and both of my great loves were joined. It was a happy and productive time. I thought life couldn't get any better, but life gives us surprising twists and turns. After a few turns, life changed again and I found incredible joy in publishing a commercial magazine, needlepoint now. Every morning when I first awaken I thank my Lord for my being able to spend the day doing the work I love so dearly. This is a happy time and the only thing that could make it better is to be able to share this honor with dear and special friends. I thank all of you for being here tonight, for always being there for me. Your dedication is beautiful and it lets me know that somewhere along the line I must have passed a few of life's tests. Thank you.

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