Bleeding for your art: FLOW exhibit uses menstruation for creative expression

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On Mar. 6, THEMUSEUM will be unveiling a new art exhibition that intends to encourage an open conversation about menstruation and foster acceptance for a natural bodily function that’s been historically viewed negatively. 

The project, “FLOW: The Menstruation Exhibit,” will showcase a collection of art installations which display the experience of periods through a variety of media including performance, dance, paint and embroidery.

These pieces will explore the topic of monthly bleeding and reproductive health by attempting to challenge period perceptions in contemporary society, as well as foster an educational environment where surveyors can learn from the art that’s displayed.  

The title sponsor of the installation is Diva International Inc., which is headquartered in Waterloo and is the maker of the acclaimed period product, DivaCup. Their sponsorship is fitting, given the contributions they are currently providing for the menstrual care industry. 

The exhibition design was created by local artist Andrea Deering, a Kitchener-Waterloo graphic designer and was curated by Virginia Eichhorn.

Plans for the installation have been in the works for over a year, and Eichhorn is pleased with the direction the exhibition will take. 

“A lot of what we wanted to do was to de-stigmatize conversations around menstruation and also to bring in really a strong educational component of it as well. We’re looking at environmental impact, we’re looking at health, we are looking at all different aspects as to what is involved with menstruation,” Eichhorn said. 

Eichhorn hopes that people will gain an understanding from the art of what women have had to go through over time simply for dealing with a bodily function they can’t control.

The exhibit also focalizes important and somewhat shocking — by today’s standards at least — views on menstrual health throughout the ages of history in Western society and other cultures. 

“Some of the works that are involved touch on historical aspects and considerations. Looking at menses as an indicator of female health and also looking at the stigma and the fact that women were made to feel shameful about it,” Eichhorn said. 

“So, looking at rituals, different cultures and also even just fun things — there [are] some historic advertisements that we’re gonna be including that are just kind of crazy ideas.”

The art that was in the process of being displayed was varied, shameless and refreshingly raw. While menstruation is often treated as an embarrassing aspect of womanhood and existence as a human being who happens to bleed once a month, this art does not shy away from the reality of periods. 

The mixed media that is featured maintains individuality to the respective artists and represents different aspects of the period experience.

From the ritualistic elements to the confrontational directness of menstruation maintenance, the exhibit is compelling even before its completion. 

THEMUSEUM is also accepting personal stories from people in the community who wish to share their thoughts in an effort to make menstruation discussion less taboo.

Furthering their positive period agenda, THEMUSEUM encourages those interested in viewing the exhibit to donate a period product on March 8, 12 or 26, to receive a discounted admission rate of five dollars. 

The exhibit will be open to the public until May 28, providing KW with a progressive display of menstruation inspired art. 

Eichhorn hopes that people will gain an understanding from the art of what women have had to go through over time simply for dealing with a bodily function they can’t control. 

“But also what women deal with and [what] wasn’t spoken about, but was a real part of life,” Eichhorn said. 

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