ARTIST STATEMENT

Flow of Life is an intimate discovery on how to embrace my whole natural being and to project it through my body as multidisciplinary poetry.

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Even though I modeled nude for 8 years and my spirit is freedom, I would always adjust my pose if I sensed the camera could capture my flower. I wasn’t hiding because of shame but it was the knowing that it could provoke sexual thoughts in others. In March 2021, when NFT’s spiked in popularity, I decided to contribute and offer my ‘Flower of Life’ as a non-fungible vagina. The creation process of this image literally opened me to myself and to the world. Seeing myself in such detail, in such simultaneous complexity and simplicity, humbled, empowered and inspired me. To the extent that since then, the only work I have been creating is of the vagina or from the vagina.

I believe I had to fully surrender to my whole natural body first so I could now as an artist look at my own blood. With self-acceptance I offered my entire being to become a vessel for expression through free-bleed painting, photography, film and poetry. Each month, close to the release of my menstrual blood, an emotion, perspective or theme would arise. The design of the paintings would sometimes unfold as I was bleeding, other times the theme pre-inspired the motif. As my cycle fulfilled itself, I would study and photograph the texture + color of the blood and I would take notes of thoughts + feelings. I would engage in exploratory conversations with Michael to absorb and translate the theme to the greatest of my ability. Those notes eventually became the spine for the poem. The poem was then again re-arranged to accompany the 13 paintings. 

Through this devoted observation I was carried beyond my own pain and suppression. I experienced the collective trauma of generations flowing through my body, I would fall to the floor and cry out “This is not just my pain, this is the pain of so many women.” I felt the suppression of ages surging into my uterus and I viscerally understood the fear of the unknown. Our choosing to own and control rather than to be and feel is what is clouding our vision. The first 6 months were incredibly challenging, but the more I allowed my blood to tell me its story, the more truth I experienced, the easier it got. We often relate and react to things, including our bodies from our beliefs and patterns. We are told simplistic and perverted stories about our genitals and our blood but nothing in this world is singular or one-dimensional. By accepting our bodies as they are, we can evolve these stories. We can grow our relationship to ourselves + each other and we can re-integrate with the natural world.

As I was invited to look at the beauty of my blood, I now invite you, to look at yourself. Because to look at your pain is a road to freedom.

Flow of Life is a practice of patience, surrender, self-inquiry and observation. It is natural therapy and a wild journey. 

Flow of Life is an homage to women who have lived and live their lives in shame and guilt for their bodies and blood. It is a call to open and to witness yourself free from those stories and to experience authentically your own existence.


— MARISA PAPEN (AUGUST 2022)

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