I’m excited to share some important takeaways from Widening the Cycle: A Menstrual Cycle and Reproductive Justice Art Show at the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference in Boston, MA, a couple of weeks ago. Brava to Beauty in Blood’s—Jen Lewis—for curating an amazing and enlightening art show and for sharing her inspiring work!
The art show and conference were held at Suffolk University in Boston. Each door leading to the room holding the art pieces was covered in paper to block the view into the room. Each visitor was greeted with a warning that made me smile and, at the same time, feel anxious to see what was behind a closed door.
Here are three artists who caused me to expand my perspective of the beauty and power of menstruation.
1. Blood on My Hands (1,2,3) by Guiliana Serena – Before reading Guiliana’s commentary, I stared at her piece, and the Game of Thrones HBO show popped into my head. Guiliana questions “What does it mean to have blood on your hands?” I’ve always associated the phrase “blood on your hands” with a dark and negative connotation – committing murder or being guilty of some sort of crime or act of violence, but this piece made me rethink my association. At some point during my cycle I end up with blood on my hands. It’s a normal part of being a woman. There should be no guilt in that honor. Women are very adept at clearing, cleansing, and transforming. Our bodies are designed to do that on a monthly basis.
In addition to being an artist, Guiliana, the creator of Moontime Rising, is a Menstrual Cycle Educator.
2. Feminine Protection by Ingrid Goldbloom Bloch—During the plenary at the conference, Ingrid shared how she found a tampon applicator on the beach many years ago that would ultimately serve as inspiration for this gun made out of tampon applicators. She finds creative inspiration in hardware stores and found manly hands there to help her create this work of art. Up close, the details of this gun are incredible! Guns make me feel uncomfortable, and I don’t support violence, but I felt an urge to hold this gun and see if it actually shot tampons. The name of this piece and the details of this gun brought up the Robin Danielson Act. Women deserve to know the ingredients and health risks associated with their feminine protection products—tampons and pads that are placed inside and near our female reproductive organs. To not know how all the details of these hidden ingredients fit with our bodies is like taking a hard shot to our basic health rights as women. Haven’t signed the petition yet? It only takes a few seconds now.
3. Cup of Flow by Lucy Madeline – No, that’s not a new red lipstick from L’Oréal; that’s menstrual blood. Lucy’s project involved inviting a group of women to her house to intimately watch her engage with her menstrual blood and menstrual cup. Lucy’s five images created a strong reaction in me. I felt slightly annoyed by how uncomfortable I felt about someone putting menstrual blood on their lips and tasting a drop. Her pictures (#cupofflow) were flagged on Facebook for being obscene but were allowed to remain after she explained that “menstrual blood is normal and not trauma induced.” As much as it might seem different to taste menstrual blood, I learned in a presentation earlier in the day that in ancient India it was common for women to taste a drop of their first menstrual blood because of its power and the belief that it helped to keep women healthy. (Check out my next blog post about ancient Indian menstrual practices and how they can help to shift existing menstrual taboos.)
If you’re on social media, I’m sure you’ve noticed a common message about the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone. When was the last time you stepped outside your menstrual comfort zone? Take a few minutes to check out the other images and artwork from these unique artists. Contact them to let them know what you felt or thought about their pieces!
Congratulations to all the talented artists for sharing their creativity and powerful imagery to expand and elevate the conversation of menstruation! I look forward to seeing more at the next conference!
Lorraine Giordano Inspired To Health www.inspiredtohealth.net firstname.lastname@example.org 201.344.6448