By Nidhi Kinhal
Over 170 million women are known to suffer from endometriosis worldwide. A disease where cells that normally form the inner lining of the uterus grow outside, and cause acute pain and suffering, is little researched, and often dismissed as “women’s troubles” or with comments like “it’s in your head”. Well, apart from the good people of the University of Sydney, who wanted to study how being in a relationship with someone suffering from endometriosis affects men’s sex lives.
Ellie Kammer, an artist diagnosed with endometriosis, is trying to dissolve the taboo with paint. With her bold and graphic portrayals of the disease, she has connected with over 13,000 followers on Instagram, many of whom are also dealing with endometriosis. After being diagnosed in 2015, Kammer “made a rather spontaneous but certain decision that I would do a large, confronting painting about endometriosis in a style that I had never practiced with, but that felt fluid and organic to me,” which then became a significant moment in her creative trajectory. On her style, and use of confrontational imagery, she says,“Words can only do so much, but an image is immediate and it begs the viewer to respond deep within themselves.”
Symptoms can range from chronic fatigue, acute pain during periods, nausea, painful intercourse, bleeding, and loss of fertility. Some of Kammer’s works are self-portraits, depicting her as tired, lying down, and bleeding heavily. The bloated bellies with hands on them are enough to communicate the pain; there’s no escaping the disease’s impact with her works.
“Education is needed regarding this disease,” she emphasises, and the support she gets from Endometriosis Australia, a foundation dedicated to raising awareness and funds for research and treatment, is something she’s proud of. Her upcoming exhibition, Nescience, has involved fifteen months of hard work, the desire to start a conversation about body image, and “the dignity that can be lost for a woman with a gynaecological disease,” and vulnerability; it will hopefully translate into women feeling less alone, and endometriosis being more effectively recognised and treated. Check out her Instagram here.
Hat tip to Vinay Kumar for the suggestion.