We're honored to feature original work by Sadie Mohler, one of the all-around-raddest artists & women we know. Read below for her thoughts on de-shaming menstruation and turning discomfort into art.
LM: When did you begin making this type of art? What inspired you originally?
SM: In college I read a fantastic article by Shannon Docherty, "Smear it on Your Face, Rub It on Your Body, Its Time To Start a Menstrual Party!" about numerous amazing people who create art with their menstrual blood. Reading the article coincided with my purchase of a menstrual cup, which presented me with the opportunity to collect, look at, acknowledge and, most importantly, interact with my blood, an experience tampons or pads had not afforded me before. Menstrual blood is an unusual and extraordinarily beautiful color so I decided to start creating with it!
LM: Why are periods and menstrual blood sources of discomfort for so many people?
SM: There are endless ways that menstruation and menstrual blood are socially shamed – media, bio-medicine, advertisements, the “feminine hygiene’ products we are sold, the fact that these products are labeled "feminine hygiene"... the list is endless. Often, the root of discomfort is the unknown. There is an amazing amount of mystery and opacity that surrounds menstruation. Think: "aunt flow", “the crimson wave” and "the time of the month" - there are myriad euphemisms we use as a society to avoid directly talking about menstruation. As a result of this avoidance, we are left ashamed, uneducated and very uncomfortable with menstruation.
LM: What is productive about art that causes discomfort?
SM: Art that triggers discomfort creates space to interact with the unknown! When we name the source of discomfort, we can start to create room for understanding, growth and change. There are serious and negative implications of being uncomfortable with our bodies and menstrual blood art directly undermines this discomfort by visually centering and celebrating a shamed bodily function.
LM: Do you have a goal with your art, and your other work? Is there a mission that drives the production of these pieces?
SM: My main goal is to create a space for vulnerability. While I have received many positive reactions to my art I generally find that people respond with anger, disgust and censorship. While I love the affirming reactions, I appreciate the negative responses as they clearly reveal the intense and oppressive way that menstruating bodies are politically charged and strictly policed.
Note: I find it important to acknowledge that many types of bodies can menstruate; in lieu of using women I choose “menstruator” or “menstruating body” to create a conversation open to individuals who identify outside of the gender binary.
To see all types of wonderful menstrual artwork visit: menstrualmoments.tumblr.com
To ask questions or talk menstruation e-mail Sadie at: firstname.lastname@example.org