Getting to Know… Yvette Lucas

Story By Jessica Goldstein


Name: Yvette Lucas

 

Title: Manager of Pre-vocational Arts

 

How long have you been with JSDD? More than 9 years

 

Was this the position you started in? No, I started as program coordinator of WAE Beyond, an evening program with a series of workshops offered our members and to the general community.

Later, I was asked to manage another program with prevocational classes called “Workability” which took place during the day. The vision for the program was to provide members with opportunities to learn pre-vocational skills in specialized art-based classes. The first offering was a painting class.  From there, it grew to include product design, printmaking, fiber arts, jewelry, weaving, and other classes.  As Workability grew, it became my main focus.

When COVID closed all day programs in the spring of 2020, I was asked to create classes where participants could use materials they had at home. I decided on printmaking classes. As the pandemic continued, the WAE Center sent  materials home so that members could expand their opportunities for creating artwork. Also during this time, I was asked to do instructional videos and later work on creating an afterhours online program called WAE Workshops. It was like WAE Beyond, inviting people outside of the program to participate in classes like painting and drawing.  A new pre-vocational class evolved, called WAE to Sell, a program that invites WAE center artists to learn how to sell their products online on a platform called Red Bubble. In that class our members learn how to position artwork on various products  and how to choose items that are complementary to their artwork. The class included basic instruction on marketing, copyright laws, and design.  We recently promoted the Red Bubble  store to the general public. You can find the Red Bubble Store HERE . Currently I am managing the Makers Studio, a section of our beautiful new art studio, where pre-vocational classes are given.

 

What is your first memory of JSDD? My first memory is the first day I walked in and was warmly greeted by many of our members who made me feel so welcome. I thought this is going to be a great place to work.

 

What has most surprised you about working with JSDD? How much I have learned and grown in my time working here. There are many challenges, new ways of working and learning new skills that have kept JSDD an exciting place to be.

What do you find most challenging? The challenge is to become accustomed to change. It is both gratifying and scary to move in different directions and to take on new projects, but it is always well worth it. I cannot think of a better job.

What do you wish other people knew about JSDD? That people who come here will be a part of a loving and dynamic community where personal goals, growth and desires are considered for both staff and members.

Tell me about someone who has influenced you while working with JSDD? Marilynn Schneider, absolutely. Marilynn’s passion and openness to ideas and her creative thought process inspired me. She embodies the belief of the spark in everyone.

What part of your job are you most excited about? The gift of a Macomber 8 Shaft Floor Loom from the Montclair Cooperative School creates exciting opportunities to expand our Fiber Arts Program. We plan to expand weaving, silk painting, dyeing and sewing to name a few. Marilynn had purchased several Rigid heddle looms with the idea that weaving would benefit and excite our members. Weaving has been shown to have many benefits like improved hand/eye coordination, understanding patterns and sequencing, increased focus, as well as promoting meditative qualities. It is calming and relaxing.

What is on your wish list for the next 5 years with JSDD? We have other workshops planned form artists who work in woodworking and puppet making coming soon. We hope to expand to ceramics, jewelry making and other fine crafts. I would like to see a vibrant program where members find fulfillment through creating.

Before working at JSDD what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? I worked for a pre-press company called Electronic Color Imaging where I supervised the art department. It was another place where I was able to grow and learn. I used programs like Photoshop and Illustrator professionally and it expanded my ability to move to digital photography in my personal artwork.

 

What is your favorite thing for Lunch? Since we moved to the new building, I love Simple Greek which makes a wonderful Mediterranean bowl with falafel, tzatziki and salad. I get it when I want a treat.

 

What is something about you that is not on your resume? I am a fine artist. I have a practice of fine art photography and printmaking with a studio in East Orange. My website is www.yvettelucas.com . Personally I’ve been doing a lot of weaving, a hobby that started during COVID to help inform my teaching but I ended up loving it and purchasing a loom for my own practice. The more I teach the more I learn, it fulfills the need to create.

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JSDD is dedicated to supporting a full quality of life in both the residential component and a holistic learning program known as the WAE Center for individuals with developmental disabilities.

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