Valerie Skakun, Ridgewood Artist
by Benjamin Fang
Feb 24, 2016 | 6507 views | 0 0 comments | 232 232 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Valerie Skakun was doing just fine a few years ago. The Ridgewood resident’s textile-dyeing business, April May June, was taking off, and she took what her grandma taught her about sewing and refined the skill throughout college.

But one day, while biking to work, she was hit by a car, and Skakun’s injuries were so severe that they required surgery. She was walking on crutches and a cane for about 10 months.

Skakun is back on her feet again, and although her business went down with her, she’s taking another road. Skakun will soon be teaching textile art classes to seniors at Maspeth Senior Center.

She said she has learned a lot through her injuries, including a different perspective of the world.

“It made me very patient, nothing’s fast anymore,” Skakun said. “I can’t even move very fast. It made me slow down, which maybe is a good thing.”

In such a fast-paced environment like New York, she said the experience has taught her to be more empathetic of people with disabilities.

“Now when I walk down the street, I don’t cut people off, weave in and out,” she said. “Especially when it’s someone who isn’t able-bodied, because I know how it feels to be cut off when you very clearly can’t walk.”

She’s keeping that in mind when she teaches her course on dyeing and textiles, which starts in March. She designed the course so it won’t be physically exhausting, which works for both her and her senior students.

“That’s also how I designed the course for the textiles, keeping in mind how it feels for your body to be in pain and for you not to use it to its full ability,” Skakun said. “I’ll be on the same pace. It’ll be good.”

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