ARTIST FEATURE: Maanya Dhar

Interview of Maanya Dhar by Tara Presnell

Hi Maanya, tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from?

Hey! I’m from India but am currently in my final year of studies at The Arts University Bournemouth studying animation.

What inspired the “Period Diares” series?

I came across the 36DaysofType challenge where one had to create a visual for every letter of the alphabet in whichever way we wanted. So I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to relax and take a break from my uni work and do something for myself. Creating a series on periods was the most obvious thing for me to do because I love drawing women and wanted to give back to the community in whatever way I can. I myself complain about my period so often and a lot of people get very uncomfortable when I talk about it or get into the gory details of it. I think this is absurd because its a natural thing that happens to women all over the world for the majority of their lives. Its insane that something so normal as a period is still considered such a taboo in so many places and still makes people uncomfortable or people find it disturbing. I don’t think it should be disturbing or uncomfortable or something to be ashamed of at all. Its not like any of us asked for this! Haha. I do believe that menstruation should be a topic that can be freely discussed with anyone and everyone and should not be something that is private or classified as ‘girl talk.’

What do you want audiences to take away from your art?

I want everyone to feel however they feel looking at the Period Diaries. I don’t want to tell anyone what to feel or how to think. But I’d like some people to think about why they feel that it’s disturbing (quite a few people have actually said this to me), why this bothers them? Why is this something that makes you feel uncomfortable? There’s nothing wrong with what I have shown in the series. I have tried to stay as accurate as possible to our actual experiences, and that’s not something that needs to be hidden I think.
There are so many little girls out there in the world that don’t have the right kind of exposure to this for them to even know whats coming. I know I didn’t have any idea what what happening when I first got my period, all I knew was that it was supposed to be a secret and I wasn’t supposed to talk to anyone about it. Most men and boys don’t even know what exactly happens when a woman is on her period. All they know is that women go “crazy” and you should avoid pissing them off at a certain time of month. I wanted the series to spread awareness about periods in a fun, raw and accurate way. It’s not a pretty experience all the time and I wanted to show the various different sides to this. I want to normalise period talk.

How long did it take you to complete the series? Were there any letters you got stuck on?

The series did take me quite a while to complete because I was swamped with other commitments as well when I began the series. I didn’t get stuck on any of the letters regarding the concept or thought behind them. I did however, struggle a bit with some of them because I couldn’t figure out how to illustrate the feeling/experience that I wanted to convey. I still think all of the letters could be improved tremendously, I find it hard to complete a piece of work and think yes, this is it. There’s always space for improvement.

Do you have a favourite from the series?

I don’t have a favourite from the series. I created all the letters so they’re all my babies in a way. However, the ones I can relate to the most are probably H – Hangry and M- Mood Swings.

Do you have any go-to PMS remedies or self care tips?

Ah, this is like asking me what the cure for a hangover is, haha! I think it’s different for everyone because everyone’s experiences vary a bit. I do believe self care is very crucial at this point and don’t agree with people that choose to just suffer through it. If you have really bad cramps, don’t be horrible to yourself, just pop a painkiller and have a mug of rich hot chocolate. I personally love pampering myself during my period. Long hot baths, face masks, movie nights in, anything that makes you happy really!

Are there any particular artists you draw inspiration from?

I follow lots of really brilliant artists from various different fields within art and try and draw inspiration from all of them. Some of the major influences for all my work are probably James Jean, Lois Van Baarle, and Miranda Tacchia. But there are honestly so many more that I could name! Check out the people I follow on Instagram and you’ll find lots of really brilliant artists 🙂

Where can we see more of your work?

Most of my work is up on Instagram @maanyartt but I’ll be launching my own website real soon as well!

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