Jessica Stahl’s art makes a statement. Both meanings intended. Stahl uses her art to provoke change. It also stands out.
This 4th of July, Stahl spearheads a guerrilla campaign in which her community takes over the streets across the US with supersized street art that portrays Lady Liberty dominating a submissive Uncle Sam to challenge misogyny in a reality where even Roe v Wade can be overturned.
The American cartoonist, creative director and sexual empowerment advocate living in The Netherlands is working with her community to reassert the independence of women during an assault on reproductive rights. The posters went up in the streets of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Washington DC shortly after the official ruling on Roe v. Wade.
“In mere days, America will be celebrating its freedom. But what about the independence of Americans with a uterus? It’s a sick irony, considering our reproductive liberties were just stripped away.” Stahl commented. “I want to send a message that we will not stop fighting and that Lady Liberty will dominate Uncle Sam in the end.”
The art has also been posted on the vanillacooldance Instagram page.
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@vanillacooldance is Stahl’s alter ego using webtoon to create a world where insecurities about sex, romantic relationships and the human body don’t exist, because we can openly talk about them (with lots of laughs while doing so). Additional posters and stickers will be spread across 25 major US cities, made possible by volunteer fans of Stahl’s message.
This is not the first time Stahl has used this medium to make a provocative social commentary. “When you bring your art directly to the people you spark curiosity in a unique and approachable way. I have had fascinating conversations as a result. It’s really powerful,” Stahl adds. Earlier this year she launched a campaign in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, around an artwork depicting the Dutch King and Queen in a compromising position to highlight inequalities in the bedroom between men and women, a subject few openly discuss.
“I was blown away by the response and how it spread throughout the city, with people of all genders lining up to take photos with the street art, wearing the stickers on their clothing to use as conversation starters and even ripping the posters from the wall to bring home with them. All spreading the message to close the orgasm gap.”
For the new project, Stahl calls on everyone to take action for Ladies’ Liberty, and in doing so, keep the fight alive. Each poster and sticker has a QR code leading to a website where visitors can learn more about the intention of the artwork, and take concrete action: by printing the protest poster, donating to the National Network of Abortion Funds or purchasing the art with 40% of proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.
“We all feel overwhelmed at the moment, and people are searching for ways to take action. It was important for me to co-create this campaign together with my community and to give them an outlet to add to the demonstrations currently happening across the country, with an artwork that empowers us and sends a strong message,” Stahl explained.
The initiative is supported by Long Island-based Sea Change Holistic Wellness Center, founded by Heather Simonson. The Centre is on a mission is to provide open, honest and sex-positive health education and therapy that addresses the unique needs of the whole person, family, and community.