Out of Office
Photos and text by MEREDITH FORREST KULWICKI
Published July 28, 2023
Editor’s note: This is the second installment of "Out of Office," a new series highlighting UB faculty and staff who pursue interesting hobbies, community engagement and other endeavors outside of their day jobs.
There’ll be a new face at the Lewiston Arts Festival this August. UB staff member Jaclyn Levesque has earned a spot among the vendors to showcase her unique style of art.
Levesque, an admissions and enrollment coordinator in the Department of Rehabilitation Science, School of Public Health and Health Professions, has been creating art and gaining more public exposure over the past several years. She finds herself able to devote a brief 20 minutes to work on her art each day, while balancing everyday commitments and responsibilities.
“It is really a labor of love,” Levesque says. “My ultimate goal is to bring joy to others because it’s joyful for me when I create.”
She displays and sells her art under the moniker Zona Lucia. It is a combination of her grandmothers’ first names, which when joined, she says, means the light of Orion’s belt.
In developing her style, Levesque has amassed a multitude of what she calls “bits and bobs” for her unique mixed-media art. Her home studio in Kenmore, a room measuring 6.5 feet by almost 10 feet, is lined with bottles of paint, canvases — many already in progress — and various other trinkets, including feathers, sticks, crystals, glitter and more.
“I look at it all as an experiment,” Levesque explains. “That’s my approach with all of it: Let’s play and see what comes out.”
She describes her process as being “very messy,” as creativity and intuition drive her decisions. Working on a painting earlier this month, she positions the canvas by a sunshine-filled window. Using her fingers and everyday objects like a fork, bubble wrap and an old gift card, and a water bottle to spray the canvas, the piece takes on a number of textures and shapes. She whispers to herself, “Don’t get too committed,” while turning the canvas 90 degrees.
Levesque has many fond memories of attending the Lewiston Art Festival over the years. Now, as a first-time vendor, she says she is most looking forward to interacting with people, and she appreciates their feedback on her artwork.
“Obviously, you want to make a sale,” Levesque says. “That’s great, but it’s the experience of going through all of it in general, since I’ve never been on that side of it before.”
As the festival dates of Aug. 12-13 draw closer, Levesque has been filling her guest room with paintings and bins of prints to sell, and the hardware needed to set up her stand. The show requires her to bring at least 45 pieces of artwork, not including prints. She also needs her tent, branding materials, refreshments, clamps to close up her space at night and a card reader to process sales.
A grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYSCA/NYFA) is providing Levesque with the funds needed to photograph her artwork and order giclée prints.
She credits many people in her art community with nudging her along the way to take part in this art festival. For the past several years, she has been a resident artist at River Art Gallery and Gifts in North Tonawanda, exhibiting her work year-round. Zona has fostered a bond with the gallery.
“Her artwork brings people together,” says Shelia Kuch, project manager at River Art Gallery. “Zona’s creativity connects with people on a soul level.”