Sm{art}: 5 Menstrual Blood Artists/Projects Worth Seeing

Tired of that worn-out trope that women are impossible to work with or aren’t creative when they are “on the rag”? Well these five artists/projects are defying this belief, using menstruation as fuel for empowerment and art. 

Zanele Muholi

Awhile back I read an article on Autostraddle about Zanele Muholi, a South African artist whose work deals with topics of South African lesbian oppression. On her website, I saw one of Muholi’s exhibits, Isilumo siyaluma (Period Pains), stood out to me—it’s a series of artwork done with menstrual blood. Muholi’s exhibit is a commentary on the pain of menstruation literally and symbolically, but is more specifically tied to the use of “corrective rape” in Africa to “cure” queer women into being heterosexual.


Zanele Muholi's menstrual blood art--looks like a complex finger painted pattern on a white canvas

Vanessa Tiegs

Through the artist Vanessa Tiegs, I learned that there is a term for menstrual art and it’s Menstrala. Vanessa Tiegs’ Menstrala project, is just one component of a greater body of work: Spiraling Moon.


Vanessa Tiegs Menstrala--what looks like a bird made of blood is under the project's title, written in red

 In her own words, the “goal of Spiraling Moon is to connect women with their cyclical rhythms to recognize and elicit menstrual awareness, menstrual creativity, and menstrual intuition. The result is to empower oneself through a better understanding of the pre-menstrual phase.” Tiegs work is focused on getting women to embrace their menstruation and use it for art. Tiegs leads sessions with women to empower them to turn that ol’ that-time-of-the-month mentality, into an “intellectually creative one.” Curious about starting your own menstrual art? She’s the woman to help you get inspired.

Ingrid Berthon-Moine

Another artist, Ingrid Berthon-Moine, has a project called Red is the Colour, which is a series of photographs showing women using menstrual blood as lipstick. (Check out our coverage of her from last fall.) She titled each photograph in suggestive terms such as “Red Temptation” and “Rouge Hollywood” drawing similarities to the ways cosmetic companies title their lipstick lines.


Ingrid Berthon-Moine's project, showing four white women with painted red lips

May Ling Su

Su’s work is titled On My Period. In a very different vein than Muholi, Tiegs, and Berthon-Moine, it is far more graphic. On her website, Su says that she spent two years taking photographs, videos, and diaries—and many of which are of photos and videos of herself menstruating. One video of herself on the site is of her smearing her own menstrual blood all over her naked body on a beach (talk about reclaiming that whole “can’t go to the beach on your period” taboo). In 2010, this website was nominated for a Feminist Porn Award. Su’s art takes her menstrual blood and pairs it with her sexuality in a way that clashes the stigma of dirtiness and uncleanliness that menstruation has held for many for centuries (see the Christian Old Testament).


May Ling Su posing nude on a beach with menstrua blood on her thighs

Menstrala Open Forum

If you are looking for a community to share your Menstrala, Live Journal has a community titled “Blood Art—Menstrala,” where members can share their own Menstrala and ideas for Menstrala with each other in an open forum.


Live Journal Menstrala

Have you seen any menstrual blood art that inspired you to think differently about menstruation? Let us know in the comments! Previously: #1 Must Have: Queer Photo Zine, Translady Fanzine 

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8 Comments Have Been Posted

Seeing Red Project

If you like May Ling Su`s art you should check out Seeing Red Project by Anna Gibson and Johanna Samuelson:

Beware that their art is very graphic. On their blog they state: "Through visual imagery, mainly photography so far, we play around with our own feelings and experiences of bleeding. In doing this, we aim at not only creating beautiful images, but ones that will hopefully upset what is considered good taste."

menstrual blood art

<p>I paint sometimes with my blood.
I has photo of my art on my blog.
I love your web thank you for spreading powerful empowering art and message

As a straight male striving

As a straight male striving for equality I think this is more fucked up then incest

as an incest survivor, I find

as an incest survivor, I find your comment highly offensive and inappropriate.

I also have to wonder what your definition of "equality" is because so far you get an F.

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