Carly Swenson • Intuitive Artist

2018-2020: Bloodwork, A Contemporary Coping Mechanism

Artist Statement:

Let me explain—about the blood. Yes, it’s real. Yes, it’s mine. It’s gross, but not that gross, because half the population experiences it. Periods don’t scare us, they’re an annoyance at best. As awkward as this artistic medium is, it’s integral to my work.


[It’s important to emphasize, that menstruation is not what defines a woman. Plenty of women don’t have cycles due to physiological or medical issues. Some men and non-binary people also menstruate. This is project of self expression and periods have a personal significance to me as an artist. I’m not making any statement defining women or womanhood. However, I hope some of my work will resonate with others regardless of sex or gender.]


As an artist and an empath, these turbulent and divisive times are overwhelming, and something had been building with no real outlet. I needed to express something–but I didn’t know exactly what or how–until the Kavangaugh hearing. Christine Blasey Ford’s brave and vulnerable testimony flooded my social media with women sharing their own experiences and gratitude for Ford’s selfless willingness to speak up in a culture that will do everything to discredit her. This event was triggering for every woman I know. Her authenticity made Kavanaugh’s rampant entitlement, toxic masculinity, and privilege strikingly apparent.

Our country made it very clear–’We don’t care about women’ (Subsequent events, such as the killing George Floyd put a national spotlight on police brutality towards people of color, as well as systemic racism. Again, however, our leadership failed to address patterns of injustice, all but directing stating–’We don’t care about black people.’ Our government has seen the lived truths of non-cis-heterosexual, wealthy white males and refuses to adjust accordingly because apparently, empathy is an inconvenient weakness.

This series started with the concept of using menstrual blood to paint a portrait of the President, antagonizing his misogynistic narcissism with my pussy. A man like him is infatuated with his own image, however, his lack of respect for women is makes my choice of artistic medium insulting even when the image itself isn’t. By its nature, blood is neutral. Its significance is defined by the viewer.  

The blood is part of a normal shared human experience that we’re shamed for from a young age. We’re taught to minimize this aspect of our lives for the comfort of a patriarchal society, in the same way that those who identify as female are culturally gaslighted, taught to downplay and minimize our own lived experiences with casual sexism, sexual harassment, misogyny, and rape culture.

Ultimately, I’m exploring my role in intersectional feminism, while working to understand my own privilege. I’m examining the expectations intentionally placing people perceived as ‘other’ at a disadvantage, while expressing my disillusionment. I’m unapologetically reclaiming my own body in a society that continues to insist it doesn’t belong to me. I’m using my body to speak on my behalf when words alone can’t.




3 Replies to “2018-2020: Bloodwork, A Contemporary Coping Mechanism”

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