How much thought have you given your period blood? I mean the actual, physical blood. If you’re like most, the thoughts end when you throw away that tampon or pad, if you give it any thought at all. But, if you’re photographer Allison Felt, you paint with it.
Like many of us, Allison used to spend her period lying in bed and complaining, but always the artist - she thought of creating something with the blood from her menstrual cup. One day, she knew it was time to act instead of whine. She painted little vaginas with the blood she collected. She found it incredibly empowering. Soon, she had pages and pages of bloody vaginas drying around her room. Now, she produces the Menstrual Diaries, a monthly series of paintings with the blood from her menstrual cup. Aunt Flow couldn’t help but ask a bit more…
Q: Have you developed a new relationship with your period after this experience?
A: Definitely. Now, when I’m on my period I feel empowered and creative, more energetic and ready to take initiative. When I’m bleeding, it prompts my brain to start thinking of new ideas and ways to turn the blood into a unique painting. I feel more in control of my body.
Q: So, the logistics. What is the experience of actually collecting the material?
A: I love using a menstrual cup. It feels more natural. It saves money and time, and is better for the environment and my sanity. To collect the blood for a painting, I just pour it from my menstrual cup into a small container that I can drip a brush into, then start painting.
Q: Personally, what has been your experience creating the Menstrual Diaries?
A: Creating the Menstrual Diaries has been incredibly different for me, as I usually do photography. It has been exhilarating to be more in touch with my work and feel that what I’m creating is actually a product of myself.
Q: How has the use of blood impacted what you paint?
A: Using a medium like blood is always going to affect the content of the image because blood has so many connotations. Most of the images I’ve made so far have been related to femininity, specifically working with the idea of destigmatizing women’s bodies. Lately, I’ve been branching out, and some of them have turned out to be more abstract shapes and designs.
Q: What do you hope will be the impact of the pieces?
A: I hope that the Menstrual Diaries will help people become more comfortable with the fact that some people bleed naturally. Of course, it would be great if my project could inspire people to be empowered and appreciative of their bodies. At the very least, I’d like for it to help create an appreciation for meaningful art.
Q: Do you have any future plans for the Menstrual Diaries?
A: The good thing about a period popping up once a month is that it always pushes me to create new art. Once I’ve completed a year’s worth of images, I’d like to print a calendar or postcard sets. I’ve even thought about illustrating a children’s book about periods. In the meantime, I’ll continue to produce art that makes me feel empowered, and share it with those who see value in it.
Pretty badass, right? Before you feel too unproductive, Allison admits her periods still contain a lot of chocolate and a little complaining. You can check out more of Allison’s work at allisonfelt.com and on Instagram at @allisonleefelt.