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Lily Liu, 53, starts her day with a quick check of her outfit before before leaving her Paducah home to play tennis. Lily, the mother of two boys, spends her mornings getting them ready for school before going to work or running errands.

The Art of Balance

story by Morgan Hornsby

As Lily Liu walks through the Bill Ford Gallery at Paducah School of Design, she scans the art on the walls and makes conversation with friends and colleagues as her sons tug on her hands. Equally at home in this environment, Kyoshi, 9, and Kenji, 7, sprawl out on a bench in front of the figurative drawings, often looking at the art upside down with their feet toward the ceiling.

Lily began her art career in college and has since found satisfaction in the time and process of creating with her hands. She always strives to challenge herself as an artist, working with materials from ceramics to fibers and constantly experimenting with new techniques. After a period of refining her craft, though, Lily witnessed a shift in her priorities.

“Since I had kids, the center of my universe has changed,” she says.

Now, Lily’s passion for art and her dedication to her children is an act of balance. She spends hours immersed in her sons' homework, hobbies, and playtime. Despite her busy schedule, Lily has not forgotten her art.

Besides working in her studio, Lily Liu Designs, and at the Paducah School of Art and Design, Lily fits her craft into the various gaps in her day, such as knitting while she waits in the car, in her home studio, and in a chair in the corner of her bedroom as the boys sleep just a few feet away.

“The inspiration from my art comes from my daily life, different places, and, of course, my kids,” Lily says.


Lily rushes through the kitchen to prepare papaya smoothies for her husband John Hasegawa and sons, Kiyoshi, 9, and Kenji, 7, Hasegawa. Despite her busy schedule balancing work, school and extra activities, Lily always prepares breakfast for her family.


Kenji compares the size of his hand to his mother's as they eat breakfast at their home in Paducah.


Lily waits for the ball while practicing her serve at Rowton Paul Indoor Tennis Center. Besides excercise of the body, Lily also sees tennis as a mental exercise. "It makes me practice concentration," she says.


Kenji struggles to stay awake while Lily reads the boys a book about Hokusai, a Japanese artist. How did Hokusai become such a sucessful artist? Kenji asks. "Discipline, Kenji!" Lily says.


After finishing a song on the piano, Kenji, 7, rushes to give his mother a hug. John and Lily encourage their children to pursue music, art and education by doing these activities as a family.


Following Kiyoshi, Lily helps Kenji out of the van on a rainy afternoon. To balance art and motherhood, she finds time to work on knitting and other artistic hand skills while she waits in the car or unwinds before bed.


Kenji and Kiyoshi show off a song they learned to play together after their lesson. The boys stay busy with various activities including piano and Minecraft club. They used to take jiu-jitsu but they stopped because it took up too much time. Their parents wanted them to focus more on school.


Kiyoshi watches his mother knit while waiting for Kenji to finish his piano lessons. "How are you so fast?" Kiyoshi asks in awe.


Kiyoshi vies for his mother's attention while she speaks with friends at the Bill Ford Gallery at Paducah School of Art and Design. Lily and John are both employees at the school and often bring their sons along to various events.


After a long day of school and lessons, Kenji waits on a bench while his parents view art and socialze with friends and colleagues.


Kiyoshi and Kenji play on their bed instead of cleaning their room as their parents asked.


Participants of Lily's first textile workshop watch as she demonstrates the project they will work on in future sessions. Besides caring for her sons, Lily is a professional artist, specializing in textiles and ceramics. She developed a four-week workshop through the Paducah School of Art and Design.


Lily knits in a corner of her bedroom moments after Kiyoshi and Kenji fell asleep in their room just a few feet away. Despite the demands of motherhood, Lily is intentional in making time for herself and her art.

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