Menstrala is the word I
coined to name a genre of paintings whose "medium is the message."
The Menstrala art movement asks us to ponder 5
symbolisms of woman's blood:
1) renewable fertility;
2) deeply conditioned, oldest but least understood taboo;
3) grief for women trying to conceive;
4) challenges for women dealing with reproductive health issues; and
5) cyclic opportunity for deep self-introspection
My 88 Menstrala created between 2000-2003 affirm
menstrual blood as a regenerative and productive symbol of psychological and cycle logical importance.
While there is a gut "eew" reaction to the sight of menstrual blood, there is an encouraged tolerance for violently shed blood as money-making propaganda.
Dr. Judy Grahn's Metaformic Theory explains how
"menstruation created the world" (shaped our cultural heritage) and where the words "taboo" and "ritual" originated.
We do not know where our moon came from, however, we
do know that the human female fertility cycle is unquestionably linked to it and that awareness of that connection played a large role in cultural developments, namely the first original cultural
In mainstream society, menstrual blood is a tool for
invalidation instead of a coveted symbol of woman's cyclical reproductive capacity and her natural ability to bleed for days without dying.
Women's five blood mysteries are:
1) defloration - initiating sexuality
2) menarche - initiating fertility
3) menstruating - initiating rhythmic renewal
4) childbirth - initiating motherhood
5) menopause - initiating maturity
Galaxy Crossing is my iconic image of Menstrala
because the phoenix is like a beacon of creative freedom out of rebirth. Recognizing the phoenix within ourself is a miraculous inspiration.
I began a journal of my "pain things" using my collected menstrual blood. My first Menstrala, Silverfish Spirits, was created in September 2000. Five months later, I published the first 13 Menstrala on LiveJournal.com, which was one of the earliest online blogs. The works inspired people
around the world to write letters. A year later, memes spread on Metafilter.com
and requests for interviews followed.
My intention was to affirm menstrual blood as woman's reminder of her feminine renewal process. Thus, I quote the media theorist, Marshall McCluhan,"The medium is the message." The universal
responses to my paintings reveal how deeply and persistently the menstrual taboo is ingrained, while today, Menstrala names the menstrual art movement of woman's silenced cyclical
Video produced by my late beloved, Wayne Thomsen (1958-2013).
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
~ 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