Women Artists Put Their Periods on Display in a Menstrual-Themed Exhibit

Knees Up, by Jen Lewis
Knees Up, by Jen Lewis Courtesy of Rojas+Rubensteen Projects
Something is flowing in Miami’s Little River District, and it’s not what you’d expect. Just seven months after opening, Rojas + Rubensteen Projects brings fresh blood to the budding arts district north of Wynwood with the new exhibit "Period.," which focuses on menstruation.

If gender stereotypes ascribe the “gift of gab” to females, art historians and curators Eira Rojas and Aimee Rubensteen seem to be OK with that. “Let’s talk about it” is the tagline for the contemporary art gallery they opened in October 2016 with the hopes of establishing a welcoming, accessible salon that encourages intelligent conversation about social and political issues, with art as a catalyst.

“We try to show work that’s important, where the methodology is important,” Rojas says. “But we also like to present beautiful work. You can be intellectual and still have beautiful work.”
Reconstruction II, by Sonia Baez-Hernandez - COURTESY OF ROJAS+RUBENSTEEN PROJECTS
Reconstruction II, by Sonia Baez-Hernandez
Courtesy of Rojas+Rubensteen Projects
Rojas and Rubensteen, who met in London while attending graduate school, share a vision of art as a factor in social change. As new gallery owners, they took a risk by opening a space just one month shy of the 2016 election in an up-and-coming alternative to gentrifying Wynwood.

Since then, they’ve tackled hot topics that hit close to home, including the environment, legalization of marijuana, and immigration. One of the artists from their most recent exhibit, "Swing State," almost didn’t make it to the States because of her concern about the Muslim travel ban.

The works in "Period." address the Affordable Care Act as well as reproductive rights and women’s rights, issues that have become newly controversial since the Trump administration took over. But the show's main topic has been taboo since time immemorial: menstruation.

"Period." asks audiences to witness a visceral part of most women’s lives that is typically glossed over in mainstream culture. “Even tampon boxes are blue,” Rubensteen notes. “Most women have seen their own blood in a toilet bowl, but not someone else’s.” The exhibit also invites dialogue on its literal meaning as “a portion of time determined by some recurring phenomenon,” which might hint at how women measure their lives.
click to enlarge My Mother's Back, by Elinor Carucci - COURTESY OF ROJAS+RUBENSTEEN PROJECTS
My Mother's Back, by Elinor Carucci
Courtesy of Rojas+Rubensteen Projects
The gallerists say the exhibit wasn't staged for its shock value. Rather, it seeks to demystify biological menstruation through transparency about issues that men and women have about periods, blood, and bodies. “Most people aren’t talking about periods,” Rojas says. “We don’t want to turn people off. We do shows that are applicable to people’s lives.”

“We want to talk about ideas too,” Rubensteen adds. “Can a bright drop red of blood floating in liquid be abstract? Is it art?”

"Period." features the work of two Miami-based artists — Sonia Baez-Hernandez and Andrea Nhuch — as well as Laia Abril (Barcelona), Elinor Carucci (New York), Louisa Fairclough (Bristol), Emily Lapeyre Gui (San Francisco), Mierle Laderman Ukeles (New York), and Jen Lewis (Ann Arbor).

Rojas and Rubensteen hope the subject matter will spark talk about the common occurrence of menstruation as an uncommon topic of conversation. “The ‘everydayness’ of how women see their bodies is there,” Rojas says. “But how do we look at our bodies, deal with our bodies?”

Thursday, April 6, through June 15 at Rojas + Rubensteen Projects, 8051 NE Second Ave., Miami; The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. and by appointment. An opening reception begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 6.
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Miami native Maria de Los Angeles currently journeys in northern latitudes but is a correspondent for the Magic City. A community advocate, she pens stories about art, culture, good folks doing good things, women's issues, and only-in-Miami moments.