Cool Girls with Tag: featured

Lindsay Amer

Cool Girl Lindsay AmerName: Lindsay (Lindz) Amer
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Artist/Activist

Artist and activist Lindsay Amer has turned the world into a stage for all audiences and actors through her Queer Kid Stuff edutainment YouTube channel. Lindsay has dedicated her young career to bridging the gap in theater and education for LGBTQ+ kids.

As a theater student in Northwestern University, Lindsay learned the ropes in producing for younger audiences, a skill that she honed during her Masters program in performance studies overseas. It was during her graduate studies in London that she stumbled upon an area that she was passionate enough to turn into a profession.

“I was learning new techniques and I started growing frustrated with the limitations theater presents, particularly for the kind of work I’m trying to do that gets censored by schools,” Lindsay explains. “I was watching a lot of YouTube at the time and thought that would be a good platform for what I wanted to do. I googled “what does gay mean?” out of curiosity and found that the only things that came up were a dictionary definition and a few resources for parents and teachers, but there was nothing specifically made for kids. I wanted to make a digital resource actually made for the young people who might ask google that question. And I just checked and our very first video pops up now in that search!”

For Lindsay, it was merely a process of trying to entertain and inform young audiences who are often deprived of certain inclusive, queer storylines as they’re growing up.

Cool Girl Lindsay Amer's Show Queer Kid Stuff

“I’ve been doing queer work for kids since undergrad, but I started in theater first where I was making new work for young audiences. I just fell in love with all-ages storytelling and saw a gaping void in LGBTQ+ content and themes in the work,” Lindsay recalls. “The first time I encountered a piece written for young people with a queer protagonist, I was completely blown away and I knew it’s what I had to start working toward. I’ve pretty much been doing this work ever since.”

Most recently, through the wide audience of digital media, Lindsay and Queer Kid Stuff have been able to reach more and more people, and to inch closer towards their goal of “a kinder and more equal future.” That’s not to say that the broad horizon of the internet has been entirely filled with admiring followers. Lindsay still is constantly reminded of the discrimination and stigma that queer people, young and old, still face.

“I get a lot of online harassment, but, to be honest, I’m kind of over it at this point. There’s so much systemic oppression working against queer people, women, and trans/non-binary people and talking about it all and creating narratives around it is still incredibly taboo,” she says.

By using art as advocacy, even when confronting trolls, Lindsay is able to fulfill her creative dreams and help other young people learn how to feel comfortable in their own skin and society.

Beyond her internet videos and her day job, Lindsay is also looking to bring her vision to the stage. “I’m directing and writing a play for my theater company! It’s Bluelaces Theater Company based in NYC and we make immersive sensory-based theater for people on the autism spectrum and other developmental differences. The show’s all about imaginary trains! It’s cool!”

So what advice does this YouTube star have for anyone starting out in artistic or advocacy endeavors?

“If you love it, do it and be it. Don’t listen to what other people want you to do, or think, or say, or be. Listen to yourself and your wants and needs and just do you. You’ll be so much happier for it.”

We think that Lindsay Amer’s work bringing Queer Kid Stuff to the masses makes her one Cool Girl!

See, read, and hear more of Lindsay’s work on her YouTube channel, website, and Twitter.

 

Jennifer J. Woodward

Jenn Woodward HeadshotName: Jennifer J. Woodward
Age: 40
Location: North Portland
Occupation: Visual artist and small business owner

Texas native and Portland resident Jenn Woodward has turned pulp into nonfiction with her papermaking studio, Pulp & Deckle. But this artistic whiz isn’t happy simply making paper, she’s trying to create a community space where this craft can flourish and gain the recognition it deserves.

Jenn discovered papermaking as a graduate student at School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The medium inspired through drawing, beyond the ink to the page itself. It was from there that the page became the stage, literally.

“What excites me most about papermaking is that it is pretty magical. You can take plant waste from your yard, or worn out jeans, cotton t-shirts, or towels, and transform them into paper pulp. And that pulp can be further transformed into sculptural objects, substrates for prints and drawings and photos,” she explains.

Of course, taking art from a creative outlet to a constructive occupation was a process in and of itself.

Jenn Woodward with Bamboo“When my husband and I moved to Portland from Boston, I didn’t really have an art studio, much less a space for papermaking,” Jenn recalls. “I was making and exhibiting art, but it felt like it was squeezed into my life, instead of being at the center of it. How to bridge the gap between what I wanted to do for a living, and what I was doing become a real priority.”

She wanted to share the craft while also creating herself, and she was inspired by the idea of community building, too.

“I wanted to give artists like myself who had worked with hand papermaking before, but didn’t have the space or resources to put together their own paper studio, the opportunity to come and work and utilize our set up,” she says.

From that idea Jenn and her husband started a Kickstarter to establish Pulp & Deckle. The campaign was funded successfully, and they opened in 2012. The studio is Jenn’s answer to wanting to make a living via papermaking, as well as providing a space to expose Portlanders to the medium and its potential.

Portland Art Museum Monster Drawing Rally

For the first two years Jenn kept her day job, but she was finally able to dedicate herself to Pulp & Deckle full-time after receiving support from the non-profit c3:initiative. As a result, Jenn has been able to start Pulp & Deckle’s residency program. She’s also been completing a larger scale, community engaged art project, called Fruits of the sun (for all the unknowns), which was recently exhibited at the Portland Art Museum for a one-night First Thursday event.

Fruits of the Sun Pop Up Portrait“Over the past several months I hosted pop-up portrait drawing sessions at farmers markets and other spaces, inviting participants to sign-up as live models via 20 minute portrait sessions.The drawings were made with handmade paper embedded with various types of seeds. The paper will act as fertilizer for the seeds, and the drawings will decay and grow into fall vegetables and native wildflowers,” Jenn explains. You can read more about Fruits of the sun (for all the unknowns) on her project blog, http://fruitsofthesun.com.

Jenn’s artistic vision is blossoming. Even after a recent fire which damaged part of the Pulp & Deckle home base, she sees the studio’s outreach and ouvre spreading branches from its Portland roots.

So what advice does this hardworking handcrafter have for other young female artisans?

“Try to be kind and patient with yourself and others. In our daily lives it can make a huge difference!”

For her papermaking prowess and for cultivating a creative community, we think Jenn Woodward is a very Cool Girl!

You can keep up with Jenn and Pulp & Deckle at: http://pulpanddeckle.comhttp://jjwoodward.weebly.com, & http://fruitsofthesun.com. Or, visit Jenn’s social pages: Facebook, Twitter, Pulp & Deckle’s Instagram or Fruit of the Sun’s Instagram.

 

Anastasia Gensic Krutulis

Name: Anastasia Gensic Krutulis
Age: 50
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Occupation: Public Health Graduate Program Online Degree Coordinator

Anastasia Krutulis was always drawn to learning, which meant spending quite a bit of time with her nose buried in books as a child in Indiana.

“I was an early, avid reader and always loved my local library. The way check-out systems worked back then, they did not allow books to be returned the same day that they were checked out. Children could only check out a limited number of books on their card, but I would read them all and then come back the same day wanting more. The librarian made a big deal out of allowing me to have an adult card with which I could check out an unlimited number of books…and she became my hero,” Anastasia explains.

After working in a library during college, and still being drawn to toil in the stacks after graduation, she decided to pursue her Master’s in Library Science. Originally Anastasia’s plan was to develop skills in data management, but she soon found herself in the throes of traditional public librarian work, which afforded her time to home-school her children while also maintaining an amazing career in Public Health.

She went on to become a laboratory manager for a longitudinal early autism identification study and then the Public Health Graduate Program at Purdue University. She was nominated as a member of the board of trustees for her local public library and also volunteers with the library’s friends organization, where Anastasia sorts and prices the antiquarian book donations to sell.

Her passion for community wellness is equally as strong as her library involvement. “Public Health programs are the link between scientific research, education and government policy,” Anastasia explains. “Public health improves the quality of life of individuals. It helps prevent and reduce the impact of disease and suffering. I can’t think of anything more important than that.”

And stepping from macro to micro, Anastasia seeks to help those in her immediate circle just as much as she extends her hand to the public; she manages the social media and online marketing aspects of friends’ businesses and her father-in-law’s artistic endeavors with reclaimed wood.

Working in academia as well as on the limitless community of the internet allows Anastasia to glean myriad experiences and constantly challenge herself.  “I haven’t had a single, direct career path and that’s fine with me,” she says. “Every opportunity enables me to learn new skills and expand my own horizons.” And it’s that adaptability and curiosity that she has bestowed upon her four children, as a mother, and their teacher.

And what does this home-schooling, book stacking, quilt making, public health serving, social media maven and mother have to say to all the young people out there wondering what the ‘right’ path is for them?

“Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” It’s far worse to pretend to know something that you don’t.  “I don’t know” leads to “I can figure it out.” Go figure it out. Ask for help – maybe even ask a librarian!” Anastasia says. “Keep asking. Keep learning.”

Very sage advice from one super Cool Girl!

Maya Polson

Name: Maya Polson
Age: 28
Location: Caledon, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Owner, Rider and Trainer at Ladera Equestrian

Before the age of ten, Maya Polson was riding at summer camp. By the time she reached the second farm where she was a camper, she was smitten with equestrian life.

“I fell in love with a pony there named Kismet, and started weekly lessons on her in the fall and have never looked back. My parents were both involved in horses when they were younger, so I come by it naturally,” she explains.

As she started high school, Maya and her family investigated the possibility of owning a farm. Over time, her dream slowly turned into a reality. When she was just finishing university, she and her family started looking into private farms for their four horses.

“Our agent found our current property completely by chance, and it was a great opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up…all the pieces seemed to fall into place,” she says. “It’s bigger than what we had planned for, giving me the ability to run it as a business and go for my childhood dream.”

Now Maya works every day at her own facility, Ladera Equestrian. Specializing in training, including hunter, jumper, and equitation, Maya’s farm has also produced two foals with the hope of grooming a future champion. Ladera’s main aim is to provide a gorgeous, professional facility where horse lovers can ride, compete, teach, and be taught. That said, running a farm isn’t as effortless as a champion jumper clearing a log fence.

“Holidays and long weekends don’t mean much because, especially when you own the facility and give the regular staff the time off, the animals still need to be cared for. The same goes for bad weather days, whether it’s snow or ice, the animals still need to be attended to. I am thankful for being able to live on the property and not have to worry about dangerous driving conditions,” Maya says.

Two of Maya’s current homebred horses were her initiation into training life. Ages 7 and 4, they keep Maya on her toes and allow her the opportunity to grow beyond simply being a horseback rider.

There is an expression that every time you work with or ride a horse, you are either training or un-training them. I think that is part of what draws me to the sport, there is always more you can learn yourself or teach the horse,” she elaborates.

It’s this mindset that has allowed Maya to work towards her ultimate goal, representing Canada internationally on the show jumping team. “Shorter term goals are to develop myself and my young horses into Grand Prix caliber athletes,” she adds.

What advice does this ever-busy equine aficionado and lady farm hand have for young women?

“So often, especially in the horse world, people say they couldn’t reach their goals because they didn’t have the money or the opportunity. If you want something bad enough and are willing to work hard for it, doors will open and people will take notice,” Maya says. “When you work hard towards a goal and finally achieve it though, nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment and confidence in yourself.”

For working hard to apply her efforts to her passion and for launching Ladera Equestrian, we think Maya Polson is a very Cool Girl!

Keep up with Maya through her website, Facebook, or Instagram.

 

Stephanie Smith

Name: Stephanie Smith
Age: 26
Location: Seattle, Washington
Occupation: Ph.D. Candidate and teaching assistant, Department of Biology at the University of Washington, Seattle

Ph.D. candidate and illustrator Stephanie Smith was a natural born biologist. She spent her childhood rifling around the dirt for treasures like “tiny frogs, raccoons, mushrooms, cicada shells, worms, and wild strawberries.”

Those fledgling years in Newark, Ohio sparked her passion, which she now channels in her teaching assistantship and studies at the Department of Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“When I went to college I was originally interested in paleoanthropology, but I took a mammal evolution class my second semester and that was what really got me interested in fossil mammals in general,” Stephanie explains. “I asked the professor if I could work in his lab and he took me on to wash and organize mammal fossils, and to sort through fossiliferous sediment (read: dirt with tiiiiiny fossils in it) under a microscope. That volunteer position was the thing that really started to get me excited about studying mammals.”

The summer following her sophomore year of college offered her an opportunity to do field work in the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming with Ken Rose and his field crew.

“On our first day out collecting fossils, I remember I found a jaw of a tiny horse (Hyracotherium) with three teeth in it, and I think I decided that day that I wanted to do this forever,” she says.

These days, much of Stephanie’s time is dedicated to completing her Ph.D. dissertation and illustrating things she finds interesting in nature.

“I’m working with a bunch of collaborators right now on a manuscript of one of my dissertation chapters, where we’re looking at changes in the type and relative abundance of different kinds of mammals on the landscape right after the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction, which is the one that wiped out all dinosaurs except birds,” she says.

In the classroom, Stephanie is assisting a class on the evolution of mammals, and much of her lesson planning includes illustrating what’s taught.

“I get to draw these big mural-type figures on the board for my students when I teach about them. I find that using simplified line drawings and flow-charts can help my students grasp complicated concepts, especially people who are very visual learners,” she explains.

Beyond the classroom, Stephanie has designed the t-shirt for the Discoveries in Geoscience (DIG) Field School, once again using her artistic talent combined with her love of paleontology.

The DIG is a free professional development opportunity where K-12 STEM teachers come join our research team in the field for four days of research experience and hijinks. I’ve been a field instructor for the DIG for five years and it’s one of my favorite things to be involved in because of how excited the teachers get about paleontology!”

In the future, Stephanie hopes to get a job working in a natural history museum where she could ideally do her research, write grants, and use her illustration skills to inform and inspire the public about science.

“Science communication is really important to me, and illustration lets me inject more creativity and personality into the process,” she says.

And beyond that personality powering her paleontological prowess, what message does Stephanie hope to communicate to young women stoked by science?

“Don’t be afraid to go out and learn new things for yourself! You can learn about a million things just by observing what’s going on in the world around you, and asking questions and investigating. Learning is not just a thing that happens in a classroom.”

Very cool advice from a very cool girl! Thanks, Stephanie, and best of luck with your dissertation!

Some internet offerings if you’re looking to check out Stephanie in action on Instagram, Twitter, or her website.