Think welding, think military boots and think aerial performance art - all softened with a touch of pink lipstick and exciting blonde curls...

Thea is an experience-designer and sculptor with a passion for creating with different materials and tools. She's big on imagination, artistic creation, and empowerment, which is why she's our girl crush in this girl-power anniversary issue.

As a teenager, Thea toured professionally with the circus for two years, where she gained experience as a trapeze artist and was motivated to start creating her own shows depicting fantastical realities. She honed her skills as a sculptor at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and says that her father's profession in Roman archaeology may also have contributed to her interest in beautiful large-scale art.

She's worked on experiential projects in New York and LA, has performed at the Burning Man festival, has her own YouTube channel, and is currently working for a Web3 Identity company that is building enablement tools to help people interact in new and experiential ways online.

Killin' It As A Woman In A Man's Role

From the circus ring to the steel room, to emerging technology, Thea exhibits refreshing courage. She has had a few close calls – like almost falling 40 feet or accidentally lighting her shirt on fire – but 'nothing too serious!' Thea also teaches welding workshops with groups like Real Deal Revolution and Babes Ride Out, as she loves imparting these empowering skills to others.

"When you understand how the world around you is constructed, you realize that you can deconstruct it, and rebuild it according to your own vision. If you can define the world you live in, and how you live in it, then on a fundamental level you are empowered," she says.

She says her students were often surprised to see a female teacher, but she always worked to meet skepticism with positivity.

"I try to keep interactions positive rather than putting people down. I want them to walk away questioning their assumptions," she says. The world of large-scale sculpture, says Thea, is still very male-dominated since many of the skills required are male-dominated trades.

For example, welding requires a large space and tools which are expensive, and sadly, it's men (mainly white men) who have access to this privilege. But she hopes to normalize this form of art through her work and make it less intimidating and more accessible for women.

'Create Your Own World'

"My message is that you have this magical ability to imagine things that don't exist yet, and then bring them from your imagination into this world. I want to remind people how capable they are," she says.

"I love being able to work both sides of a project: creating something you imagine - which often involves hard work in a metal shop! - and then activating it with a performance. Women often get the message that they can't do the building part, but I want women to see that they can do it too. Take the reins! Representation is so important in our world."

And empowered female representation and imagination indeed shine through in Thea's work. You can see her in action on YouTube welding a circus moon, inventing glitter bomb puzzles (to prank the famous glitter-bomber Mark Rober), and designing flame throwers. She'll also be launching a mixed-reality interactive art project next year that will be available on mobile and will enable people to become creators themselves through their phones.

In 2023, watch out for Thea's new TV show which is going to air on a large network and is all about engineering and playful creations, but that's all we can say for now!

— Photographers: Graham Sheldon & Selena Moshell

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