WOCA: Jennifer Stelco

I hope Jennifer Stelco likes me because I’m in awe of her. 

Jen’s sense of self is intoxicating. 

She’s the type of woman many men claim they want to hang out with at a bar because she is down to earth, knows who she is, and doesn’t put up with any bullshit. 

Those men tend to idealize women like Jen and then blame her for their insecurities when she tires of their shit. 

At least this is the sense that I get when I spoke to her for the podcast. 

Jen’s aura relates to one story in particular. She was hired to do a speed painting job: two portraits with the clients there watching. She took the job on short notice and on her flight from Dubai she began to panic about drawing portraits. The man who hired Jen greeted her nervously when she got off the plane. Any nerves Jen may have had were shadowed by the greeting she gave the fearful, sweating man, “Don’t worry, I’m here and I’m very confident.”

This is the best way I can sum up Jen’s artwork, it’s here and it’s very confident.

Spice Politicians

*Click on the link to see and hear the piece

The first piece that introduced me to Jen’s work was titled Spice PoliticiansJen showcases five political figures: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC, progressive congresswoman), Angela Merkel (German politician and de facto leader of the European Union), Kamala Harris (current US vice-president and first  woman to ever hold the title), Sanna Marin (Prime Minister of Finland and youngest serving world leader) and Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand and first  woman to ever hold the title and go on maternity leave); posing as a group who she credits for introducing her to feminism, the 90s pop group The Spice Girls. 

Five women in positions of authority beaming with pride and confidence; pride not only in their accomplishments but also in leading a feminist chant version of Wannabe. Angela Merkel still gets the blood pumping at age 66 in a German flag pair of hot pants. But whether or not my heart is racing at the sexualization of Angela Merkel isn’t the point, she doesn’t care what I think of her in that outfit and feels confident enough to be who she is. 

Chest of Drawers

*Click on the link to see and hear the piece

Chest of Drawers portrays how women feel they need to operate, compartmentalizing each aspect of themselves and only showing the necessary based on the situation with which they are presented. It also the constant attention it requires looking at how you are presenting yourself to the world in multiple angles, reflections in different mirrors. To me, and maybe others, this may feel frustrating; however, we look for compartmentalizing and self-reflection in emotionally mature and enlightened beings. Perhaps this is one of Jen’s secrets to her persona: her ability to code-switch and navigate multiple communities without breaking a sweat. 

Or maybe it speaks to the over simplification by males (mine included) of who she is as a woman. The complexity of opening each drawer to discover another layer to reshape any preconceived notion we may have.

Joan Jett of Arc

*Click on the link to see and hear the piece

In Joan Jett of Arc, Jen portrays Joan Jett playing guitar on the back of a horse as Joan of Arc. The combination of past and present feminist icons speaks to the long and winding road equality has taken to get to about halfway where it needs to be. 

The band on stage adorned with crosses represents a church where they have never been represented properly, but they play on anyway. This band doesn’t need a fog machine; the smoke from where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake will suffice. The crosses worn as a uniform seem to say you can burn one of us and two more will be created in their absence. And if a woman thrusting on stage with a guitar between her legs doesn’t say “I don’t need a dick to be cool” I don’t know what will.  

"I'm Here And I'm Very Confident"

I had Jen fill out a questionnaire that I had planned on using in conjunction with her art. But when we spoke I was completely captivated by her presence and familiarity that they inspired me to write this instead. 

I feel I’ve known Jen most of my life and that if we were closer together on the globe that our families would be good friends. It’s why I told her when we begin to travel again I’m coming to visit her in Dubai with my wife and daughter to stay with her indefinitely (she laughed nervously at this joke). 

I get the sense that I’m not the only one who admires Jen for her personality or her presence.  When a woman like Jen walks into a room and says, “I’m here and I’m very confident”, with every essence of her being, how do you not get behind her and follow her wherever she’s going?

I’ll gladly follow her lead. 

***

Jen is currently working with a group of artists on a project entitled "Mothers of Ethereum". The collection will launch in @stellabelle’s gallery on Cryptovoxels in mid-May. It includes one piece from each contributor as well as a “mother piece”, which will be a collaborative collage made from images from all of the pieces, put together by miss al simpson.

Look for the NFT podcast episode where Jen Stelco elaborates on our new mantra, “I’m here and I’m very confident.”


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