In Their Own Words: Estela Semeco, Hannah Helton, Nerdkween, CLAWS, Elizabeth Jarrett, and Valerie Jane Thoma

Leading up to Ladyfest weekend we will be highlighting our 2015 artists, performers, and workshops;  using their own words.


I am a Venezuelan-American artist based out of Atlanta, Georgia. I began drawing at a young age and still find the same comfort when I draw today. My work often comes across as whimsical despite their deeper meaning and is heavily influenced by folk and vernacular artists of all backgrounds.

Pretty Ugly by Estela Semeco
By Estela Semeco

Among many other reasons, I choose Ladyfest because I know and believe in the women running the event. This event gives me the opportunity to exhibit new work as well as set up as a vendor. I often get torn between identifying as an artist or crafter and Ladyfest lets me do both.


My work explores the concept of internal versus external existence and the tension created when the two realms collide. The figures in my work are granted a freedom to simply ‘be’–without the anxiety of fulfilling an archetypal role– and to achieve a brief ecstatic moment of identity-free existence.

By Hannah Helton
By Hannah Helton

What draws me to Ladyfest specifically is its deliberate focus on women’s art and acknowledgment of the lack of opportunities available for us. I admire that Ladyfest does not distance itself from the politics involved in creating a woman-dominated space and recognizes that this is necessary for the basic advancement of Atlanta’s art community.


“From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Nerdkween (pronounced “nerd queen”) is the stage name for the American singer/songwriter and composer Monica Arrington who is known for lo-fi recordings and minimalist style of electric guitar playing with added electronic noises. She is also known for a wide range in vocal ability, from haunting and airy tones to gritty and country-like twangs. Her music is a part of the genre slowcore or dream pop. She is also one of the few African-American performers in experimental pop/rock music. Arrington started self-releasing cassette tape demos in 2000 starting with “i see things differently now”. Then she put out other CD demos “the dark horse” and “Sketches at Eddie’s Attic”. Arrington’s debut full length album “Synergy” is distributed through Stickfigure Records in Atlanta, Ga.”


“Born from the remnants of a scattered Atlanta music scene, CLAWS is a duo comprised of sultry songstress Amber Renee and four-time Grammy award-winning producer Graham Marsh (Gnarls Barkley, Bruno Mars, TI). CLAWS’ music combines dusty urban elements with hints of southern blues and sultry pop, creating a sound as diverse as the city from which it was born.”

CLAWS is Atlanta born and bred, so in all things we do, we represent our city. We are also a band with a strong female lead. Both of us would proudly call ourselves feminists, and we stand for equality for all people. We believe in the power of women, and love that there is a creative event dedicated to honoring the talent of women in our city.


Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, I am a graduate of Kennesaw State University with a BA in Theatre and Performance Studies with a concentration in acting and performance. Part installation, part interactive performance//theater piece, I plan to use my strength for creating space through innovative set design with my performance and improvisation skills. I want to encourage myself (and my audience) to confront my (or their) own fears of intimacy by creating genuine, one-on-one relationship interactions with an audience member as others look on.

By Elizabeth Jarrett
By Elizabeth Jarrett

I might be Atlanta’s biggest fan. I’ve lived here all my life and just think it’s the greatest. Like other places though, especially in the arts and creative cultures, women and women identifying artists have not been given the same advantages and are sometimes seen as a novelty. I have long said that this city is filled to the brim with incredible, inspiring, ass-kicking women.


In my stand up I explore and poke fun of my chronic disease, endometriosis. I talk about infertility, dependency on birth control, taking frequent bowel movements, and smoking pot for nausea. I discuss dating men who hate strong women and dating comedians who hate funny women. I talk about being married to an alcoholic and barely surviving it. I think my material may be new and uncharted by some but relatively comforting to those who didn’t think they were supposed to talk about these things. I think it’s important to talk about such topics and even more important to learn to laugh about them.

Valeria Jane Thoma
Valerie Jane Thoma

When you are a woman you are a native advocate for anyone who has ever been marginalized. The inequity suffered because of one’s race, religion, orientation, gender, age, illness, income, and education is alarming. Sharing these experiences is an invaluable gift and the utmost effective weapon against such inequities. I want to share my experiences but further, and more importantly, I want to learn and grow from the expressions of others’ experiences.

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