Lena Chen

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First-Year MFA Candidate

Lena Chen is a multidisciplinary artist and activist exploring women’s labor, spirituality, sexuality, and trauma. She is fascinated by the fractured experience of womanhood: the state of being simultaneously revered and vilified, desired and rejected, empowered and objectified. Experimenting with her own autobiography and identity, she works in collaboration with lovers, muses, and strangers to construct intensely intimate encounters, participatory rituals, and one-to-one performances. One of the earliest survivors of revenge porn and cyber-stalking, she lived under a fictional identity as a nude model (Elle Peril) to reclaim agency over her narrative. From breastfeeding members of the public to recreating Christian practices as menstrual rituals, she investigates the body as commodity and natural resource, while embodying the emancipatory possibilities of erotic capital.

Named a Progressive Women’s Voices fellow at the Women’s Media Center and a “new feminist leader” by More Magazine, Chen has presented talks at SXSW, re:publica, Yale, Brown, Stanford, and Oxford. In 2018, she founded Heal Her (2018), which has worked with artists, activists, and survivors in six countries to convene storytelling circles for collective healing from sexual violence.

Lena Chen work image