Menstrual Art: Yesterday and Today with Taylor Meagher and Revathi
Taylor Meagher is an Australian based visionary Creatrix, a feminine embodiment ambassador, a menstrual advocate, and a conscious sexuality figure. Her work is centered around womanhood. It is powerfully confronting in an effort to break the stigma surrounding topics associated with being a woman. She is on a journey of awakening the feminine via the empowerment of the physical body and the natural rhythm it follows. By embodying her own journey with her menstrual cycle, sexuality, and authentic expression, she wishes to be a role model for more women to follow suit. Taylor creates her work with a variety of mediums, the most potent medium being her own menstrual blood.
Q - Thank you for joining us today. Can you please introduce yourself and how you developed your painting style?
T - I am Taylor Meagher; I live in Australia. I had been on birth control pills for close to 10 years, and in a way, I was chemically castrated. I decided to stop taking the pill on intuition. One year later, when I was travelling, I discovered that I could paint. My style was established during that time frame. My style has developed over the years with a lot of self-development, and I have also sat in numerous plant medicine journeys (verify). The idea to start painting with my menstrual blood also started during one of those journeys. It has just developed since then. I have also had a strong urge to read about menstruation, the spiritual aspects of it, the seasons, and it all sort of developed from there.
Q - Your followers on Instagram can see that your colour palette is in metallic ink with menstrual blood. Where did that idea come from? To use a diverse colour palette?
T - Well, to be completely honest with you, I have nearly planned the colour palette. It has all just been intuitive and has come out. I have always been attracted to shiny things, hence the metallic ink. And I think that the metallic ink adds a kind of dimensional, cosmic touch to it. This again stems from this virtual plant technology, plant ceremony kind of thing.
Q - From when you started menstrual art to now, how have reactions changed? In what ways have people reacted to your art changed?
T - So I have had a couple of comments about my Menstrual art in particular. There has been a contrast. A lot of people don't say anything at all because they don't know what to say. And on the other side, some people are saying, is that actually healthy? Can you actually get sick from doing that? Because it is blood. Because there is a typical thought that it is dirty. It's developing over time, and people are changing their ideas and the way they react to art. But I think that also stems from the way that I am presenting it. So when I first presented menstrual art, I guess in a way, I was afraid of what people would say. And now that I am becoming more confident and more comfortable with it myself, the audience’s reaction is changing. So I am presenting it in a more feminine, sacred way, and people are responding to that. Before, I was just kind of putting it out there because I had this desire to put it out there, but I wasn't presenting it in a way that felt safe and secure with important messages behind it. It was just trying to kind of get it out there in a rush.
Q - You recently put it out on your Instagram that you are starting a Yoni series. Could you please tell us a little bit more about that project?
T - This project is - that I am trying to break the taboo or stigma around vulvas in general, but also vulvas, particularly with body hair. I have actually not started this project yet because I have now gone down a different alleyway, but it is definitely picking up momentum. I have a lot of women who are comfortable enough to send me photos of their vulvas, and they are feeling very empowered to be a part of this project.
Q - A lot of people are doing this now. They are more empowered to put their art out there. What are some suggestions you would give upcoming artists who want to engage in menstrual art?
T - I would just say go for it! Go for it and be confident, and believe in yourself. Trust your gut instinct. If that's what you want to do, then there is a reason why. There is a reason you are doing it, and there is a message that wants to be channelled through you. And don't worry about what people are going to think. Because how people interpret your art is a message from how they view the world. So I would just say go for it.
Revathi is an artist, activist, and aspiring musician based in Chennai, India. She actively engages in various forms of performing and visual arts. She derives most of her inspiration from the nuances of human nature and existence, the female body, the socio-political issues, and her inner turmoil. She often tries to express herself by using her naked body as a canvas and/or medium, and her style of art has been described using terms such as ‘rebellious,’ ‘scandalous,’ and ‘intense.’
Q - Thank you for joining us today. Can you tell us about yourself and how your journey with menstrual art began?
R - One day, I thought, oh my god, it is so cool how you can see the colour of the blood and even feel its viscosity when you pour it out, you can touch it and actually feel for yourself what it is made of and how it is. One day suddenly, I wanted to show the world. I wanted to do something with it. All this blood is just being wasted down the drain. Let me use it, let me make something with it, something pretty, something empowering. Let's see what people think. So I just went ahead and did it. My first menstrual art was actually my most radical one. It was the performance piece that was taken down by Instagram multiple times.
Q - As you said, Instagram sometimes takes down your work. Does that deter you in any way, or is it more motivating for you to keep putting more of your art out there?
R - Obviously, it pushes me more to keep posting more stuff. I have always been a rebel. I am against the normative, cis men oriented standards that make absolutely make no sense. I am also a nude artist, so a bunch of those have been taken down by Instagram as well. I am always striving to put out content that shows a big middle finger to those community guidelines. That Instagram shadowbanning me and stopping my posts isn't going to stop me from sending out my message to the world.
Q - When we talk about Menstruation itself, Especially in India, it is accompanied by taboo, a sense of disgust. When you put your work out there, how have reactions been towards you as well as your art?
R - Obviously, there are a lot of people who are pretty much grossed out and horrified by what I do. When I actually put out my first performance art piece, many people commented and messaged me asking - is it safe? Are you sure it's hygienic? Will it affect your health? Is it this, is it that? All kinds of concerns so-called concerns. Most of them were not genuine; it was just a way to mask their disgust. And some people don't talk about this at all, like the older women in the family - like my mother, my grandmother, my aunts. It's all hush-hush, so I can never tell them I did something like this because they would be completely appalled and would probably kick me out of the house. That's how things work in India. A lot of reactions from my close friends and my close circle have been really positive and really encouraging. People who know what I do, people who understand my art, who understand my thought process have always encouraged me, shared my work, and done things like that to uplift me to do more work like this. Even people who were once horrified or shocked by it started coming to terms with understanding the symbolism, the meaning, the relevance, which is quite a good sign.
Q- How do you associate nudity with menstruation?
R - So menstrual blood, for me, is a representation of life itself. Life and its nascency is something pure, primordial, and magical, and I could go on and on with the adjectives. Since I am a nude model, so nudity also is all those things for me. So when you put nudity and menstruation together, it's a compelling combination. You are in your rawest form, doing this really raw natural process that the whole world shames you for. When you put those two together, it is beautiful and, for me, the very essence of being a woman. Being my natural naked self and bleeding like I am supposed to. It is a celebration of my fertility of my womanhood, of the power my body holds.
Q- We have seen some of your pieces, you sent them over to us, and some are on your Instagram as well. Are you planning any more? What is the future for your performance pieces?
R - I am definitely gonna create a lot more menstrual art. I have a lot of ideas, and I just haven't gotten around to doing them because I have been caught up with a lot of stuff. My mental health has been cramped up in this pandemic and all that. But I definitely want to do more paintings with blood and maybe more performance art pieces that incorporate the element of menstrual blood into my photography work or self-portrait work. Instagram will find it harder to take down if it's not performance. People will find it difficult to identify if it is blood if I don't tell them. So I can find a lot of loopholes to put work out there that won't be removed and sends out the message.
Q- What is one thing you want to tell menstruators out there?
R - My message would mostly go out to Indian women right now; there is a lot of taboo, shame and stigma, and ostracism in India. We don't even discuss menstruation openly, discussions in a hushed voice, exchange pads under desks and hide. I would tell them to kind of look at people like us who are proud of our menstruation, talk about it and make art out of it look at us get inspired to become confident, see the messages we try to give out, break the shame they have around it even if they are not ready to teach our level. It's a gradual process that starts at home. I have told my mom about menstrual cups; she didn't even know. I encourage her to switch to sustainable products. I personally try to reach out to people if I can't. I tell them to watch us and make an impact on our lives.