I’m a stylist, painter, henna artist and art therapy student from Lithuania and I present to you my social art project [NO]LIFE. It was created together with a professional photographer Enrika Samulionyte.

The original idea for the project was a makeover photoshoot with ordinary women (not models),who we are used to seeing while going about our day-to-day business. I planned to dress them up in beautiful dresses, flowers, crowns and lavish jewelry to achieve a dramatic transformation, captured in BEFORE and AFTER photos.Incidentally, thanks to years of working as a fashion editor, I have a lot of experience with makeover and done countless fashion photoshoots. None of the photoshoots seemed sufficiently extraordinary to be turned into an exhibition. Over time, I realized that the brightest transformations start not with fake eyelashes or beautiful gowns; they start in the heart, mind and soul.

The extraordinary photoshoot did happen, but not that way I expected. One day, for no particular reason, I got into henna art. With a bit practice, I became proficient in producing elaborate henna drawings. I had hundreds of henna sessions drawing on other people’s skin, holding my breath, in a nearly meditative state, having very personal conversations with my subjects. They were all very intimate experiences. I realized that that henna art is a perfect therapeutic tool, opening the door to people’s hearts and minds. The process helped people – even if for a passing moment – cope with whatever hardships they were dealing with in their personal lives. [NO]LIFE was born.

The women to whom I gifted my henna drawings during this project are special. They have scared hands – a result of years of self-harm. They are also prisoners (literally, not metaphorically). Some of them appear to lack passion for life, emotional intelligence, and self-esteem. They speak a different emotional language and think/dream in ways most of us would struggle to understand. A lot of who and what they are is represented by their scars.

There are no magic spells to cure their scars or hearts. But I have tried. And I will try again. I sincerely hope that one day one of them will tell me: “today I want to live a little bit more than yesterday”.

The transformation of scars was captured by my dear friend and professional photographer Enrika Samulionytė. She captured the entire process and had the chance to witness women’s emotions the moment I had finished each of the henna drawings.

The project was named [NO]LIFE and presented as an exhibition with a Q&A session in Panevezys Open Youth Center (Lithuania). The photos are partly about unspoken words and feelings, hopelessness, insecurity, and not being able to seek out help. At the same time, they represent hope. Hope is important.

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