37th Story of Transgression: I Make Transgressive Art

One of my late adolescent poems was about expressing my big feelings by cutting my fingertips with a scalpel and painting with my blood. I didn’t intend to actually do it, but when my mom saw the poem she freaked out and cried (because my mom always made everything about her feelings and her pain). She didn’t listen to me when I explained why I wrote it. She was convinced I was going to self harm so she took me to her therapist. This was before cutting to process emotion was widely known as a phenomenon among young women. But this psychologist was one of the good ones. She told my mom that if I was writing about it rather than doing it, then I found a healthy outlet for my chaotic emotional world and that was good. (Perhaps my mom wouldn’t have died of her pain if she had found a healthy way to express it?)

This was my first experience with transgressive art. I went on to write poems about my rape and my grandmother’s forced incest with her brother. Then I started making vulva sculptures and digital paintings. I developed The Yoni Endeavor long before vulva art became popular. I was one of only 3 websites at the time.

After the vulvas came the gift economy project, The Conspiracy of Blessings. Why is it transgressive? Because gift economies are the antithesis of our transactional consumer culture. I find it fascinating that I can struggle to find recipients of my gifts because we’ve been taught to be suspicious of something offered for free. We believe gifting is reserved for friends and family. A stranger’s generosity is suspect in a world where we’ve come to expect everything is transactional.

And then, of course, there was the Impropriety Society. I was the art director and hosted a volunteer art making event before every themed party. We created a giant vulva and penis out of chicken wire, fabric, glue, and paint. We made artistic frames for all kinds of erotic art – fat, kinky, and queer. Everything we did was transgressive.

Now I am here writing the Stories of Transgression and considering what other kinds of creation belong under the umbrella of  the Transgressive Woman project.


📸 I love this piece of transgressive art by @_drasan_ on Instagram. It immediately brought up the memory of my poem and my mom.

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