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Bodily Autonomy



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Traditional herbal abortion was one of the ways women protected their autonomy and choice. The plantitas shown are Artemisia, also known as mugwort or wormwood, which besides promoting dreams, was one of many herbs used by traditional healers, midwives, and parteras, to prevent or terminate pregnancy. Other abortifacient herbs native to the Americas include black cohosh root and pennyroyal, often used in conjunction with blue cohosh. Cotton root bark, native to the Americas and to Africa, was also used by Black plantation herbalists to exercise control over their bodies under slavery.

Pencil drawing in sketchbook of person, seen from behind, sitting on field of mugwort, with words tattooed on back, "Autonomy in my body, in my person, in my health."

I scanned a pencil drawing from my sketchbook that I created immediately after the Supreme Court Dobbs decision overturning Roe vs. Wade.I then adjusted the image in Illustrator, and created the color separations for a four-color screenprint in Photoshop. Each of the colors is done as a “split-font” with multiple colors in the same screen, including a blend of metallic gold to purple ink for the skin.

Photograph of three process states of the Bodily Autonomy screenprint, showing the first layer for the sky and plants in a green to blue blend, the second layer for the hair and mugwort flowers in oranges and magentas, and the third layer for the skin in metallic gold to purple.

A risograph version of this image appeared in the Our Bodies – Our Resistance portfolio.

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