Muscle Memory



Women live amidst the gaze: male, societal, governmental. But what does it look like when that gaze is shifted inward? In observing each other's bodies and bearing witness to each other's emotional states, to the effects of always being observed, the object becomes the subject.

Muscle Memory features a blend of interwoven, sometimes literally, visual and verbal artistry, with an interplay between entrapment and release. The two artists use their respective media as distinct lenses through which to view femininity, fragility, intimacy, exposure, and the anxiety clouding and morphing each of the experiences.

Owens’ use of paint, collage, and drawn media and Murphy’s application of language create reflect the conflict of ownership pertaining to the body on display.


The body heat of

Three and not two it's

You it's not me I'm not here really that's my

Mirage flickering in the thin glass walls while your eyes stay heavy and Life of Pablo plays my

Grayscale skirt is short and my

Face is gone but why

Subvert the fallacy when

The buffer keeps us safe it holds us tight against the cheap white sheets but

They're not even ours they're borrowed aren't they and I

Bet the owner of this airbnb wouldn't

Like it if she knew I got off

Using the shower head but I

Didn't have a choice


I can hear the agita when I stand up too fast

Also crickets and the rustle of dried corn husks in the fields

It's cicada season 

What heat sounds like

Jersey laid to rest

Quietly bleached

Hear, hear

Two lovers lay head to toe

Opaque and impenetrable their bodies

Encased in perpetual haze 

And of course you'd understand but would you understand exactly.


Untitled II

What does it mean to be a femme?

Sweet peach peels and soft gazes through lowered lashes but

Where do the drippings go

If it's the blind leading the blind

How do we know

What to do in between

With the middle part

That wriggles that squirms then at long last convulses because it's so

Tightly held

I'll let someone tell me

What to do with my body I don't mind


About the Artists

As longtime friends, the artists draw on the complexities of and joy in their own personal relationship as the backbone of their works. In the marriage of these two perspectives, we see female community manifesting with its complications.


Madelyn Owens is a Pittsburgh native with a background in design, comics and zine making. She creates “girlhood bedroom art” from her bedroom in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Using paint, glitter, collage, and other mediums to create expressive, representational figures drawn from life or from photographs taken by the subjects themselves. She applies the aesthetics and materials of doodling and scrapbooking in a private space to depict an often sequestered form of feminine expression to legitimize girlhood experience as a valid artistic and political statement. Her favorite color is very bright pink.

See more of Madelyn’s work at


Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, Kelly Murphy writes poetry, essays, and nonfiction from her home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Brokelyn, Brooklyn Based, Flavorpill, Nerve, and various other publications. Across genres, her pieces explore themes of sexuality and the female experience. Her YA book, Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes from Cleopatra to Camus, was published by Zest Books in 2013.

See more of Kelly’s work at