A child's collage made from fabric, paper, cardboard, leaves, and yarn. It resembles a waterfall scene.

Create Your Own Universe

Inspired by Simphiwe Ndzube’s The Bloom of the Corpse Flower
Colorful corpse flowers with pink stems and roots

Simphiwe Ndzube, The Bloom of the Corpse Flower, 2020. Acrylic paint on canvas and mixed media; 95 x 79 in. Denver Art Museum: Funds from the Contemporary Collectors’ Circle with additional support from Vicki and Kent Logan, Catherine Dews Edwards and Philip Edwards, Craig Ponzio, Ellen and Morris Susman, and Bryon Adinoff and Trish Holland, 2021.37. © Simphiwe Ndzube. Courtesy of the artist and Nicodim Gallery. Photo by Marten Elder.

About the Artwork

Look closely at Simphiwe Ndzube’s The Bloom of the Corpse Flower. Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, Ndzube incorporates fantasy and reality into one imagined universe. Ndzube collects existing references to transform the familiar into the fantastical and to give new meanings to his creations

Discussion Questions

  • What words would you use to describe this pink universe?
  • How do you think the artist wants you to feel when entering the pink universe?
  • What elements of the universe feel familiar to you?
  • What elements feel make-believe?

Oracles of the Pink Universe [draws] from certain elements of Bosch’s work like the bodily morphed architectural structures, the alchemical, and the theatricality of human existence...[Life is] full of color, it’s full of texture, it’s full of naughty moments. . . . It’s also full of so many mysteries. There are dimensions that we are not paying attention to . . . my work exists both in a physical [and] intellectual realm, but also there’s the uncanny, magical, inaccessible element of exploration.

– Simphiwe Ndzube
A child's colorful drawing of a tree.
Artwork Title: Tree
Name: Olivia

Your Turn

What if you could create your very own universe? Ndzube often collaged photos of his own hands and eyes (and sometimes his friends’ eyes) into many of his figures and creatures. Not only do these components ground the viewer in reality in this fantastical world, but they also signal the creator’s literal presence and body. Make your own collage (a piece of art made by attaching various materials such as photographs, paper, or fabric to a surface) to construct an imagined universe.


  • Magazines
  • Photographs
  • Fabric pieces
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue


  1. Think about what you’d like your universe to look and feel like.
  2. Look through magazines and cut out the colors and patterns to put in your universe collage.
  3. If you have photographs that are allowed to be cut up, look for eyes, hands, etc to use in your universe collage.
  4. Finally, use fabric pieces to find the textures and colors to add to your universe collage.
    A child's drawing of their alternate universe.
    June's art inspired by the Pink Universe.

    Reflection Questions

    • What adjectives would you use to describe your universe?
    • Does the collage you’ve made support the feeling you were trying to create?
    • Is there a story to your universe?
      • Who lives in your universe and what are they like?
      • What kind of place is your universe?
      • Are there certain rules in your universe?
      • Why did you create this universe?
    • What is the name of your universe?

    Related Creativity Resources

    Book titled "Du Iz Tak?" by Carson Ellis
    Book Recommendation

    Du Iz Tak?

    Written by Carson Ellis

    Du Iz Tak? is a story about two bugs who discover a mysterious plant coming up from the ground written in a completely made-up language. Readers are invited to use context clues and illustrations to interpret what is being said. Like Simphiwe Ndzube's Bloom of the Corpse Flower, Du Iz Tak? reimagines our world into something more fantastical and mysterious.

    Brightly colored corpse flowers with pink stems and roots
    Thematic Collection

    Adventure through the Pink Universe

    Activities inspired by Simphiwe Ndzube: Oracles of the Pink Universe

    Guide your students and/or children through the Pink Universe with fun activities inspired by Simphiwe Ndzube: Oracles of the Pink Universe. Activities include an artmaking project and a book recommendation.