Menstrala: Silverfish Spirits
Created September 2000
Created September 2000
Menstrala art may often represent:
1) the menstruant's interpretation of the oldest, most deeply conditioned, but least understood taboo
2) the difference between menstruating in unsupportive surroundings vs. supportive environments
3) grief for the woman trying to conceive
4) the artist's awareness of her lunar unconsciousness becoming conscious (mindful menstruation with cycle logical awareness)
The menstrual cycle signifies that the female human body is a living lunar clock. Yet, woman herself forgets this because tracking lunations is an unacknowledged way of calendaring time. We are discouraged from acknowledging the psychological, physiological and spiritual connections the lunar phases, or amounts of moonlight, have on our health.
The purpose of creating Menstrala, which is such a psychologically charged art, is not to offend, but to remind audiences that a menstrual taboo closely relates to our fear of death, or choosing to avoid confronting the face of death. Both menstruation and menopause resonate with the concept of barenness, the inability to conceive new life.
Yet, cycle logically, women silenty endure the challenging menstrual phase. This seemingly invisible closing phase is always followed by a gateway to renewal.
Human awareness of women's fertile connection to moonlight caused civilizations to invent the basic foundations of culture.
Math originally was invented to count the number of days & nights between menstrual cycles and lunar cycles.
Mathematics contains the root word "Ma," short for mother. Calendaring is based on mothers counting the number of lunations in their fertility cycle from conception and pregnancy to giving birth.
It is noteworthy that there is a relationship between a mother's 9-month long gestation cycle and the Family of Eclipse Cycles (see astrologer Dietrech Pessin's Lunar Shadows III: The Predictive Power of Moon Phases and Eclipses, 2009).
Some words have menstrual origins.
The word taboo originates from the Polynesian word, tapua. Taboo originally meant menstruation, which is the world's oldest and least understood taboo.
The word ritual originates from the Sanskrit word, r'tu. Ritual means first menarche rite. Women's four blood rites of passage (menarche, defloration, giving birth, and starting menopause) were her very own original women's rights.
Make-up, or cosmetics, is sometimes referred to as war paint.
The word cosmetics derives from cosmetikos, meaning to apply order to the cosmos through the creation of symbols written on the body.
The stunning similarity between taboo and tattoo is intentional.
Please see feminist poet, Dr. Judy Grahn's Metaformic Theory (Blood, Bread & Roses, 1993), which tells the story how menstruation created the world, including men's parallel blood rites, like skin piercing.
In 2000, Vanessa published her first paintings ("pain-things") on the web's earliest blogger forum, LiveJournal.
While working on her Master's Degree thesis in Women's Spirituality, she fulfilled her community practicum, Spiraling Moon: A System for Menstrual Insight with a group of women of wide ranging ages. Her achievement was to show them how to transform PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) into PMP (pre-menstrual power) by re-membering their lunar consciousness.
In 2008, Dave Navarro, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers rock star, requested Vanessa to co-create two Menstrala originals with him for his reality TV show (not published).
In 2003, prints of "Timandra & Bulis" were displayed onboard the USS Kitty Hawk Supercarrier in the Persian Gulf as an experiment conducted by Navy crew member, Scot Hurd.
Menstrala appear (at 18:30) in the 2007 Indian documentary, "A Flowering Tree." The film takes a look at how menstruation is embedded in Hindu rituals and beliefs dating to ancient times. The main character evokes old menstrual rituals and places them in ancient Indian culture. Just before Menstrala appear, she declares: "When the completely gripping pains pass, I begin to feel joyfully renewed and childlike. I come to love this sense of vigor, though it has no social recognition, so I keep it inside, a secret power."
Your art is beautiful, your medium universal.
~ Daniel Reinhold, Baltimore, MD
What you do is absolutely wonderful and awe inspiring. Never before have I seen such wonderful art and witnessed such a powerful artist behind the works. You've made me look at menstruation differently and allowed me to think of myself as a different girl.
~ A. Gabrielle, York, PA
The idea of painting with such a personal, symbolic medium inspires me and makes me reconsider my own relationship to my blood. I believe your artwork carries a very positive message for femininity on its wings.
~ Jennifer, Daytona Beach, FL
Inspiration! Painting, to me, is a dance, moments caught between the seconds, swimming in the reality that hides in the shadows. I paint, or rather, I dance with shapes and colors. I have long now been without inspiration. I have felt within the shadow I used to court. Your work has inspired me to step into the light again, with a whole new medium. I just wanted to say thank you.
~ Shawnaly Tabor, Kalispell, MT
To use something that so many hate...I find such beauty in it. Very few can find the power in that monthly flow...but you have...and I find it beautiful.
~ Serena Orman, Kalkaska, MI
Awe and wonder fill me now as I write these words. What joy you must feel to use your body to create such beauty. I am a man, and was never taught that any part of a woman's body was taboo. As a young man, I was surprised and saddened to learn that some women loath the experience of their period, and its issue. Some even felt deep shame and embarrassment. I always saw it as glorious. If your work helps just one woman to see herself as a font of beauty in this context, you will have accomplished something really great.
~ Sander Roscoe Wolff, Executive Director, LongBeachCulture.org
I wanted to tell you that I think your work is absolutely beautiful - it's the most original concept of celebrating what it is to be a woman that I've ever seen.
~ LMC, Devon, UK
Your artwork is completely stunning. The passion you show toward your technique and belief is truly inspiring. I feel I can learn so much about myself, others and simply life just by looking at one of your paintings. And when I do shun away from a few that shock me, I can still reflect on the matter in a positive way. You really do break that image of menstrual blood, and menstruation in general as something disgusting or something to shun and avoid. I agree with many of your fans/followers that it's wonderful to see something so universal in artwork, and still it's so personal. I hope you continue to create such beautiful artwork. I applaud you.
~ Val, Baltimore MD
So few things are truly universal, crossing the boundaries of time and place, of class and culture. Your art is a visual expression of the emotions, harmony, and turmoil associated with womanhood. So what better medium to use in your creations than your own lifeblood, the very thing that makes a woman a woman? I am touched by what your work represents, and I want to thank you for your courage and ingenuity.
~ Amanda Riley, Knoxville, TN
A friend of mine sent me the link to your gallery thinking I would find the pieces horrific. Nope. I LOVE them. What an inspired way to say that our monthly cycles are powerful and beautiful. The symbolic significance of menstrual blood does raise it far, far above the level of simple body waste. You aren't looking to shock, you are channeling the life force. I applaud you for it.
~ Kerri S. McIntire
Beautiful paintings. Very evocative. And as a medium you've reached for something that shouldn't be extraordinary but of course is.
~ Pete Lang, Sacramento, CA
Your talent is truly delightful. It's good to see such splendid composition with clever titles yielding such wonderful art. Actually, it's more than art. It is a socially significant statement, and a bold (yet soft?) indictment; a step into the light. It's rare, in these days of cookie cutter or formula art to discover a pioneer, but today it happened. Thanks for opening my eyes.
~ Art Bach, Blairsville, GA
The magic of moonblood clearly resides in these paintings Vanessa. This reminds me of some mysterious art gallery where there are so many favorite works of art you can't pick just one. The variety here is amazing considering you are using a limited palette of color and a simple white background. I am so glad you chose descriptive titles for them. Mere numbers or abstractions could not convey the creative fire of the medium nearly as well. Besides the paintings are very individualistic expressions of the Artist herself, and these captions give viewers more information than just a referrant name. All the pieces had something to say but the ones that spoke the loudest to me were: "One Root in a Thousand Seeds," "Floating in the Void," "Mirror Dance," "Astral Entry," and "Mar's Fire." Powerful Art indeed. Although "this is the most hidden blood" I do not think these paintings should be ignored or hidden away, so thank you for sharing them with us in such a nicely presented gallerylike fashion. All your journals (and website) give pleasure, provoke thought and are a feast for the eyes.
~ David Torrey, Chicago, IL