Kim's Blogs

The Vagina On White Canvas

~~~~My Kenyan pen-pal, Mercy, sends me her writings and
journals. She is now a journalist in Nairobi. I believe God has Great plans for her
future. Anyhow, here is one of her stories. I love her words profusely and entirely. Especially stories about women’s issues.  Thanks,
dear. I love you more than 13 Bengal tigers sunbathing in the gold and sapphire of

–Mercy was put through journalism school by my good friend Deb S.  I loOove both of you!



Journal Entry  2012—

-I am doing a science story.  I get to her flat at about 10:00 AM


She is in her study writing stuff in her notebooks.  She is a top scientist in East
Africa.  The most slippery
source a journalist can chase.


She sips tea and adjusts her glasses staring at me.  I am intimidated.


On the wall of her study is the biggest painting of a vagina
I’ve ever seen.




It is blown up, stretching across the wall & dominating
the white canvas.


I am drawn to it, obsessed with it.


But I try to avoid gawking at it.


She looks at me.  Grins.


“It is Mine.”  She says.  “The vagina is Mine.”


I cast another glance.
I’m uncomfortable.


“Yes, the vagina is a beautiful organ.  It is us who brutalize it, cut it, stitch
it.”  She frowns. “We Africans are corrupt.”


I am writing in my notebook as she speaks.  Staring at my black shoes.


After I leave, I am still thinking about that vagina on her


Now, when I see her on the news,  I smile and think:  “WOW, perhaps she is courageous and powerful
to have that giant vagina on the wall…or perhaps,  she’s just simply crazy.

Dear, Reader,    what would your thoughts be if you walked into one’s home and there was a Giant Vagina on the wall?

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  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I would suspect a crazy person…maybe even a sex crazed lunatic.
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  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 10:30 am

    She’s a beautiful Crazy Chick just like you! Shared this on my CCC FB page.
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  • Reply
    Charlene Ross
    February 24, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I would probably think YIKES! But, yes, also both brave and crazy. (Or crazy brave!)

    Thank you for sharing your Mercy. I always love hearing about her. She inspires me so!

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  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Well, I’m not sure what I would think – crazy, courageous, avant garde? Would I be uncomfortable? My sassy, self-confident self likes to think no, but my more realistic self knows that I would probably do exactly what Mercy did and try and avoid looking at it with every ounce of energy I could muster.
    What does this say about ME?

  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 10:54 am

    My niece told her mother recently (she’s 4) when she was driving over a series of speed bumps…”mommy you’re making my vagina dizzy!” I’m thinking she’ll be picking her spot on the wall out soon too! love xxxooo
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  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I would most definitely be uncomfortable and intrigued and love to be her friend!

  • Reply
    nan @ LBDDiaries
    February 24, 2013 at 11:04 am

    I would ask her “why” – what story so moved her, was so powerful, she had to put that on her wall. Her statement to Mercy tells you that, about the brutality of FGM.

    Mercy is an amazing writer. She is a voice, as you are a voice, both powerful in specific areas. What a blessing. I love her black and white pictures with just a spot of color somewhere. Who takes her pictures?
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 27, 2013 at 6:07 am

      Hey Nan,
      I love that you’d ask questions. This is so very NANNY of you!

      Mercy’s old boyfriend, Simon, has taken several exquisite photos of Mercy.

      After all, She’s Beauuuuuutiful.

      LOTs of Love flowing to you. Xx
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  • Reply
    Ellen M. Gregg
    February 24, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I would be uncomfortable, for sure.

    >> Vaginas aren’t to be discussed or displayed. Vaginas are meant to be hidden under multiple layers of clothing. Shielded. Protected. Hidden. Only your husband has access to your vagina. In the dark. <<

    ^^That's how I was raised, in a stealthy, old-school sort of way, thus my discomfort with a wall-sized vagina mounted (ha!) in someone's home.

    But… Discomfort, I would like to think, would be followed by admiration for the woman who possesses the level of strength and candor and self-love that gave her leave to display her vagina in such a fashion.

    Love. xoxo
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 27, 2013 at 6:09 am


      I’m so pleased about your last paragraph, Ellen.

      “Admiration.” is a perfect word.

      Love your words, comments, encouragement. Xxxx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..The Vagina On White CanvasMy Profile

  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I would love to see it (the picture, that is). It takes a lot of balls (!!!) to put a huge picture of a vagina on the wall.
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  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I would probably react just as Mercy did (my God she is beautiful) but thinking about it I am filled with admiration for the woman’s courage. its crazy chicks like that who will change the world because they make people stop and think. lets face it, nothing is going to get someone’s attention more than a giasnt vagina on the wall!

    thanks for sharing this Kim. (((((((((hugs))))))))))))


    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 27, 2013 at 6:10 am

      Hugs, Love, Affection, & Appreciation flowing to you for your fabulous words on my blog.

      Xxxx LOooooooooooove
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  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I would look at it. I would love to see the photo. I think that is amazing and wonderful art that she took a photo of her vagina and enlarge it to cover the wall. That is an incredible and strong message. If I may ask, what is the article Mercy is writing about this woman?

    This blog post reminds of Alice Walker’s book, ‘Possessing the Secret of Joy’ whose topic, background and foreground is female genital mutilation in Africa which Walker works/has worked to put an end to.

    Thanks Kim for another inspiring blog entry!

    • Reply
      Kim Sisto-Robinson
      February 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      I just wrote to Mercy and she sent me this response for you:

      *****i was doing a story on how Africa can benefit from growing indegenous crops like cassavas that are resistant to drought and flooding so as to see to it that we never experience famine like we always do. This was in the wake of famine that was experienced in Kenya.

      The woman is among the few women scientists we have in Kenya, and she is in her 50s, which is interesting because she must have fought a lot of battles to be where she is now. She has a PhD, coming from a generation where women were not allowed to go to school. She is TOUGH.

      I was assigned to cover her story, because I have experienced famine more than anyone else in our office********

      thanks for reading, dear! Xxxx

  • Reply
    Annette Molitor
    February 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Well honestly, the reserved Baptist at nature gal I am, I’d blush. But honestly, I’d have to wonder why. Coming from an African American, I may inquire what’s the message behind the pic? I mean I’ve read about the cutting/stitching horror that is performed on many African American women as a religious practice, and quite frankly,…I’m mortified. So I wonder if Mercy was a victim of this procedure or if she courageously escaped it. If it was a pic of my neighbor’s vagina I may remain silent or if I were to comment, I may say something like.. Oh, you want to be an OBGYN?
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 27, 2013 at 6:12 am

      ~~~Ahhhhhhh, another Baptist girl.

      Mercy has been thru much in her village. Perhaps this is the reason she is such a unbelievable writer….

      I love your last line, Annette.

      you are faaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous. Xxxxxxx
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  • Reply
    Jann Huizenga
    February 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    FIrst of all, congratulations to Mercy for a fabulous piece!!! I loved it. I would do exactly what Mercy did at first: G::A::S::P!!!!

    But then I think I’d burst out laughing at the sheer outrageousness of the artwork. Risque. Outre. Perfect. And, in the context of Africa, especially, extremely political. Audacious, valiant, spirited women–all three of you!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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    • Reply
      My Inner chick
      February 27, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Risque. Outre. Perfect.


      xxx Love to you, Jann.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    It is brave and awe-inspiring for her to speak out like that and truly, I see the vagina as one our most feminine symbols to be proud of. Wow, she is absolutely courageous 😀
    Can’t say seeing it first up would not be a shock!

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  • Reply
    Elisabeth Kinsey
    February 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I applaud her openness (no pun intended) because she is active in making others aware. We need to say the word vagina and we need to know that it is attached to a personality. That women have a face, too, and there is a uniqueness to the vagina, as the face has. This uniqueness is something to celebrate, not brutalize or normalize the violence thereof. Right now, in many cultures in Africa, the very core of women is being shaken and brutality normalized. Through the canvas and through other mediums, women can begin again to empower themselves and rethink the culture that normalizes brutality.

  • Reply
    Jodi @ Heal Now and Forever
    February 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I think I would assume she is brave. It would be quite a statement to make, that the vagina is to be celebrated rather than subjugated. In the US we don’t physically mutilate the vagina (publically), however, sexual abuse to women is way too prevalent here.

    Love it, Mercy!

    You both rock!
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  • Reply
    Carolyn Hughes
    February 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I would think that takes one gutsy woman with amazing self-confidence, who know who she is and where’s she’s going. And I would be probably overwhelmed and a little bit jealous of her awesomeness.
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  • Reply
    Red Dwyer
    February 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I liked this on FB with the tagline: I would have one.

    I would, you know. Very conscious. Very expressive. Decisive way to get the point across. I love it.

    Thank you, Kimmy. I love you got comfy enough with her vagina to share it with more ppl who need to.

    Much love,
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  • Reply
    Joe Peterson
    February 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I’d ask where the penis picture is. Yep, that’s what I’d do 🙂

  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Reminds me of that episode of ”Everbody loves Raymond”, where the mom buys the vagina statue and shows it to everyone, much to the families embarrassment.
    wonder if she says same statement to everyone tbat enters her office??
    I cant wait to see your dad’s comment Kim!

  • Reply
    Debi Pasricha
    February 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I would think, provoking, intellectual, and crazy. Crazy with a side of irony. I also would be drawn to it. I mean it’s not that often that you get to view an oversized vagina. Ha! Beautiful writing, Mercy.
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  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    haha, what a woman, what a provocateur!

    There is an art museum here that featured a work of vaginas. It was a row of plaster sculptures of the vaginas of scores of different women who had posed for the artist. The women ranged in age from early 20s to 70s, and the sculptures were lined up next to each other in a long corridor at eye height. The work became so popular the owner of the museum replaced it; he thought the attention and acclaim was too-easily won. He still however sells the soaps that were cast from the sculptures in the gift shop. They come in a box with a little name attached, like “Angelique”, “Bianca” and so on.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    After having enjoyed a live production of The Vagina Monologues, I hope I’d let out a big whoop of celebration. I’d have to ask about the story behind it. Wouldn’t everyone like to know who took the photo?

    Mercy, thanks not only for this post, but also for your successes! What an example you are making for other Kenyan women. I would have had an initial gasp, too, but I’m sure I’d whoop or let out some sort of cheer. The cheer would be for her chutzpah. Talk about “I am woman!”

    I think the scientist could be named the poster child for the Vagina Monologues.

    Just had a thought: Being hetero and not imagining myself blushing, I’m wondering if more gay women would blush than hetero viewers.
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Interesting perspective, Amy.

      I do wonder if this scientist ever watched THE Vagina Monologues.

      I doubt it, though since the African culture is much diff. than ours.

      But I’d love to send her the DVD!

      My Inner Chick recently posted..The Vagina On White CanvasMy Profile

  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    I believe private parts should remain private, especially that. I’m pretty opened minded, but paintings of nudes don’t do anything for me. I’d rather see a painting of a sunset or waterfalls or flowers. Yes, it does take a great deal of courage to put something like that on a wall, and I would think she likes shocking people. And doesn’t care if it makes people uncomfortable. I don’t see art in something like that.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      After the initial shock, I would look at the vagina from all angles and exclaim…

      “Now, this is ART!”

      LOVE xxx
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  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    February 24, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Mercy looks and writes brilliantly. I am pretty sure if I saw a blow up of a vagina on the wall, I would look at it closely, fascinated. I don’t think I would be shocked. I remember we used to have a butterfly-pea creeper and when the first blue flower bloomed, I clicked a photo of it and sent it to a friend and he instantly told me what it reminded him of. Incidentally its scientific name is Clitoria ternatea.

    I think the scientist is an open minded, free person who believes in herself. And Mercy, yes, you’re right – God has great plans for her future. Thank you for introducing her. Please give her a hug from me.

    Love you, Kim, more than twenty swans gliding across the lake in summer.
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 27, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      Excuse me while I google Clitoria ternatea!!

      I love you more than 10 Black Panthers lounging in the Kenyan Moonlight.

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  • Reply
    Elephant's Child
    February 24, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you Kim, and a huge thank you to the talented Mercy.

    A while ago I went to a stage production of the Vagina Monologues. I laughed and I wept. Such a sadly derided and abused organ it is. I would be in awe at the chutzpah of a woman who would not only hang a giant photograph of a vagina on the wall, but who would also publically claim it. Such a strong woman, such an inspirational woman. And Vidya Sury is right – they are strongly flower like to look at. Certainly nothing to hide in shame.
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  • Reply
    Lady E
    February 25, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Ha, it’s funny how much this story got me thinking. And how much I can’t really decide what to think about the situation… But overall, I’m leaning towards the thought that this is a brave woman, who is not afraid of putting herself on the line to make a point about the condition of women in Africa (and elsewhere to be honest).
    Thanks for sharing xx
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  • Reply
    Valentine Logar
    February 25, 2013 at 4:22 am

    I suspect I would first G:A:S:P just as Mercy did, then I would attempt to look anywhere but there. I am after all nearly 56 and have all the social contracts I was raised with, despite my leanings otherwise. In the end though, I would not be able to look away. I would not be able to look away from the woman brave enough to declare and own her personhood or femininity, I would stand in awe of her. I would not be able to look away from that bravery, that courage.

    Thank you Kim for bringing us Mercy and this story.

  • Reply
    Mandy - The Complete Cook Book
    February 25, 2013 at 5:37 am

    Hmm, not sure I would want that in my face on the wall – especially not giant sized – not the most attractive thing in my eyes.
    Hope you are well my friend.
    Much sunny warm South African love to you.
    🙂 Mandy xo
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  • Reply
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
    February 25, 2013 at 7:25 am

    I think I would be completely speechless and I’d probably pretend I hadn’t seen it, lol.
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  • Reply
    February 25, 2013 at 9:24 am


    I was SURE you were going to tell me at the very end of Mercy’s tale that a Georgia O’Keefe had finally made it’s way over to Africa and that Mercy was looking at one of her prints.

    But, the real Mcoy…

    Speechless could be an understatement. I mean, jeez, Georgia O’Keefe gave me a serious case of the giggles, blush, blush, way back when.

    I am amazed that she was able to handle the rest of the interview with such poise and actually manage to get a story and a blog done. She is obviously wise and mature beyond her young years.

    I loved it.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 27, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      interesting you should say that. I thought about Georgia O’Keefe immediately after reading about this incident in Mercy’s Diary.

      Now, obviously, they use the REAL THING!

      I so much appreciate the GUTS of this woman.

      love you. Xxx
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  • Reply
    Sandy Webb
    February 25, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I am sure I would be taken aback at first. Heck, who wouldn’t really? But, I figure to each his own. Although I have to admit that Vagina Art really doesn’t fit into my decor…
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  • Reply
    February 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I suspect I would be initially uncomfortable, but drawn in by her bravery,

  • Reply
    Lady Jennie
    February 25, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Okay vagina paintings aside, I wrote an article on female genital mutilation when I was in East Africa so I get this woman’s passion for putting it out there. Great organ – not meant to be brutalized, especially through ignorance.
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  • Reply
    Wild Child Mama
    February 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Well, I’ll tell you this, I couldnt wait to read this blog because it has the word VAGINA in the title! If I saw this giant photo in the wall, I would be totally in awe of this woman’s statement and her courage and her approach to get people to look at something we try to hide! AND…I would be totally embarrassed!!! Where do you look at that point? Do you discuss the folds of her labia? I’d totally look at my shoes. Lol! What an amazing experience. This is wild. I’ve never seen such a thing. Although, in college I did buy a coloring book with anotomically correct vaginas in it. I was too embarrassed to ever color in it! But that doesn’t even come close to this;). Wow. What an experience;)

  • Reply
    Beverly Diehl
    February 25, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    I would blush. I would be embarrassed. Then I would take a closer look. I would compare it to my own (from what I remember the last time I did a mirror inspection). I might ask how it was created (the painting, not the vagina), if she had to do many sittings – or would those be lyings?

    Yes, she is brave. Mercy is brave. Love love love.
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  • Reply
    Connie Omari
    February 25, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I”m all about women’s empowerment… But I think I would vomit… Just a little too much… I get the message… but it’s a little too much… especially if I knew who the vagina belonged too… yep… too much!
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  • Reply
    February 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    What a fascinating piece Mercy has written. Upon seeing this painting, I would wonder why she put it on the wall. What do her parents think about it? It’s a statement alright. A brazen one at that. And a confrontational one. I like to think of myself as progressive, but heck, I grew up in the states and even though I didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, I think there’s a bit of a Puritan inside me. 😉 Which is why, I would probably sit with my back to the painting.
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm


      by the questions you ask, I can tell you are indeed a writer.

      Mercy explained a bit above on Liz’s comment. Check it out.

      LOVE Xxxx
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  • Reply
    February 26, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Wow – I think I’d be speechless! But how brave of her to make such a bold statement.
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  • Reply
    Pure Complex
    February 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

    I don’t think I need a vagina on my wall because I see my own every day and very proud of it LOL. But I would’ve been speechless.

  • Reply
    February 26, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Oh, wow! What a powerful image! I have no idea what I’d do if this happened to me in real life though. I’d probably be shocked, but also thrilled by her empowerment. (And wondering if she was crazy, too. :))
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  • Reply
    February 26, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I would look at it and say “So that’s what Shawn sees”…he claims my taco stretched when I pushed out our son’s fat head.
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  • Reply
    Blond Duck
    February 26, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    That title got my attention!
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  • Reply
    February 26, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    No Comment

  • Reply
    Girl with a New Life
    February 27, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I love courageous rebels who force us to see things in a new way.

    So I would be impressed.
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  • Reply
    February 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Thanks for sharing your friend with us.
    I have a few vagina inspired art so to me it would not be odd or bizarre.
    As an artist I know there is a good reason even at our mechanics office where
    Marylin Monroe might be immortalized bare breasted.
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  • Reply
    February 27, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    I would be shocked, of course. But to see the beauty in it, that’ real courage and brilliance.
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  • Reply
    February 27, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Did you ever see Fried Green Tomatoes? Remember when Kathy Bates was in a group with a bunch of women braving the unknown, looking at their vaginas in hand mirror? It was funny, but an odd source of humor. Would I feel awkward? Probably at first, but as with most things I’ve come across in life that cause uncomfortableness, I eventually evolve. There have been times when I chose not to, why or why not, depends on my frame of mind.
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      February 28, 2013 at 5:48 am


      It’s almost as if one needs to be a bit prepared…

      Now, if I walked into a home w/ a Vagina, I’d be like

      “WOW, is that yours?”

      Xxxx Love.
      My Inner Chick recently posted..The Vagina On White CanvasMy Profile

  • Reply
    El Farris
    March 1, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Great work. This made me squirm, just like it makes me squirm to talk about sex and sexual abuse and words like incest are so hard for me to say aloud, but say them we MUST. Beautiful stuff. xoxo
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    • Reply
      Kim Sisto-Robinson
      March 1, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Dear E,
      I believe that once we speak the words, break the silence, and learn to love ourselves, we will finally be LIBERATED from our bondage.

      Xxx LOVE. Hope you are well, dear.

  • Reply
    March 1, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Without knowledge of female genital mutilation, most Americans would be uncomfortable. But for her, talking about it, removing the shame, is how they recover. One can’t move on until one removes the stigma of talking about it. But displaying it, she’s taken the boldest step of all.

    Until you’ve walked in someone’s shoes — or at least know what their shoes look look like — judgement should be reserved. This brave woman is blazing a trail for other women, and changing the world in the process.

    I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Mercy.
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    • Reply
      Kim Sisto-Robinson
      March 1, 2013 at 10:48 am

      Love love love your response.

      I shall tell Mercy to read your comment. Xxx

  • Reply
    March 2, 2013 at 5:42 am

    I’d believe she was a strong woman who was not afraid to make a statement and stand by it. That she recognized the conversation starter and uses art to make a point. And that she is just a tad crazy. In a smart way.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2013 at 6:02 am

    I think the G*A*S*P said it all

  • Reply
    March 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I grew up in a family of artists…there were always nude oils on the walls. Then there were two of my sisters’ homes…one who had a nude of herself on the wall and the other one of her hubby. I just glanced on them and didn’t say a word 🙂 I don’t think I’d be bothered one bit by the painting…
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  • Reply
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    March 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Kim thereis a modern art museum in Australia (Tasmania) that has a wall full of them. It’s quite confronting when you see it although most women I saw were quite curious while men sort of shuffled away self consciously. The artist was a man though and the story behind them was quite different 🙂 xxx
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  • Reply
    Kelly @ Inspired Edibles
    March 3, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Dominating the white canvas, invading our thoughts and rocking our comfort zone – love it!
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      March 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      so glad you think as I do :))). LOVE! Xxx

  • Reply
    March 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I wouldn’t like to see that. It would be quite awkward.
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  • Reply
    March 4, 2013 at 8:40 am

    That sounds really weird, I couldn’t picture myself what would I do in a situation like that. I think my behavior would depend on the scene and the environment; for example, when I am in a gallery, there is nothing special about a canvas with a vagina. But in a living room of a suburban family home, it is more than fishy…
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  • Reply
    Kim Gagnon
    March 14, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    She rocks!!!!!! I absolutely love it! What a empowering statement that picture makes! Love you Kimmy !!!!

    • Reply
      Kim Sisto-Robinson
      March 15, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Empowering. YES!! Xxx

  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Courageous as all fuck! And not shy to declare it’s hers. She’s awesome.
    Noeleen recently posted..Saved by BatmanMy Profile

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