Jessica Vellenga (left) and Casey Lee (right) of Yarn Bomb Yukon, yarn bombing the DC-3 airplane. Photo Credit: Kyle G Cameron
Jessica Vellenga, curator of the summer exhibition ‘Jim Robb’s Yukon’, has a passion for both community and art, and works tirelessly to connect the two. This aspiration is most evident in YAC’s public programs. Has your child created a masterpiece at a Kids Kreate Workshop? Presented their artwork in the Youth Gallery? Have you shown your own art in the Community Gallery? Attended an art talk, lecture, tour, workshop, class or event? If you said yes to any of these, then you have benefitted from Jessica’s persistence and passion for promoting culture in our community. As Visual Arts Community Engagement Coordinator for the Yukon Arts Centre, and an artist in her own right, Jessica is focused on bringing art outside the Gallery, and inspiring individuals and groups to be curious and creative.
With such a pivotal role at YAC and within our community, we thought it was about time that the public get to know Miss Vellenga, so we talked with Jessica about her long time love affair with the arts.
DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO AT THE YUKON ARTS CENTRE IN FIVE WORDS OR LESS.
Connect people with art.
WHAT IS A VISUAL ARTS COORDINATOR?
A job which allows me to work on many different projects, with the main goal of encouraging the public to engage with visual arts at the Yukon Arts Centre through a variety of programs.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?
Curation of the Community & Yukon Electrical Youth Gallery, public and school tours, planning Kids Kreate – our free family art class, creating community art exhibits, organizing our resource library, social media promotion of YAC Gallery, shipping and receiving, artist liaison, working with community partners to develop art experiences, exhibition planning and installation, writing grants and budgets.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXICITING THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Always being involved in the creative culture of the Yukon community, but also meeting and working with national and international artists.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS CAREER?
I’m a practicing artist and started working in galleries to better understand how to make and market my art. My first gallery job was learning to frame and sell artworks and from there my cultural career has continued. I’ve worked for artist run centres, public art galleries, commercial art galleries, on public art projects, and contracts in collections management in both Ontario and Yukon.
WHAT KIND OF TRAINING PREPARED YOU FOR THIS POSITION?
I have my B.A. in Fine Art, with a minor in Art History, specializing in contemporary art from McMaster University and the University of Leeds, UK.
MOST MEMORABLE SHOW/EVENT/EXPERIENCE YOU’VE WORKED ON.
Yarn Bombing the DC-3 airplane with the Yukon Transportation Museum and Yarn Bomb Yukon was definitely a highlight!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT/JOB?
This is it! It’s a perfect balance between my career as an artist and cultural worker.