bloodwork: part I • blood introduction

Let me explain—about the blood. Yes, it’s real. Yes, it’s mine. It’s gross, but not really that gross, because half the population is accustomed to it. Mensuration doesn’t scare us, it’s an annoyance at best. As uncomfortable or unusual as this artistic medium is, it’s integral to this body of work. It’s an incredibly normal aspect of life that’s often unacknowledged, misunderstood, or shamed because it doesn’t fit within the comfortable norms of our patriarchal society.

Some viewers assume the use of blood is intended only for provocative shock value, and dismiss my work because “other women have done that before, you know?” (My mental response is usually, “And, other artists have painted with acrylics as well, you know?” That doesn’t diminish the meaning of my work.)

Anyone who knows me personally, or is familiar with my usual art (intuitive painting & visual journaling) will know I’m not someone who enjoys conflict or drama. I’m not an artist who generally makes work with the intention of making viewers upset. Therefore, any shock value, anger or disgust by my chosen medium for this series is a possible side effect rather than the intention of the work.

All that is to say, my relationship with blood is complicated.

The idea… • India Ink/Graphite/Menstrual Blood on paper • Carly Swenson • 2018

3 responses to “bloodwork: part I • blood introduction”

  1. Carli, I find ongoing encouragement in the person and the artist you are becoming. You have/are doing good, hard work. Let my voice be one small voice encouraging you to continue.


  2. […] The concept for this piece was the beginning of my entire bloodwork series. It’s appalling to me that someone with such a clear record of corruption, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia won the highest office in our nation. He is the epitome of rape culture. For this piece, I focused solely on quotes relating to women. Originally, I found over 70, but had to narrow it down because of limited space. I thought this expression of my personal frustration would help me find some peace, now that all this was out of my head. Instead, however, it started an entirely new body of work. […]


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