Reshma Thomas

Digital Artist + Designer + Researcher
Reshma Thomas is an artist, designer and researcher who makes interactive tools, narratives, and experiences that help under-represented communities learn, express, visualize, discover, share, and/or advocate for themselves. She is particularly invested in children's education, design pedagogy and social impact with a feminist, pluralist lens. She engages with a variety of form, tool and software depending on the intention and goal of each project, ranging from data visualization, game design, psychology+design research experiments, web design and development, interactive installations using physical computation, UI/UX, publication, 3D film and sound design.
Thesis Faculty
Dave CarrollLoretta WolozinJesse HardingFran Hoepfner

Painfully Periodic

A Collective Memoir of Menstrual Pain

Painfully Periodic is a web platform that invites menstruating people to visualize and describe their menstrual experiences, especially of discomfort and pain, through engaging poll interfaces. Answers are anonymously aggregated and transformed into interactive visualizations that depict similarity and variability in menstrual pain.

The project aims to help menstruating people asynchronously and anonymously archive experiences of menstrual pain as visual and verbal memoir-data visualization.

Homepage of the Painfully Periodic memoir website

Given the context in which menstrual pain is known to be exceedingly pervasive and disruptive to people’s lives, this thesis aims to facilitate the menstruating community to develop a picture of the large variability of the experience, introspect on undue normalization or under-reporting, and co-create a digital resource and language to talk about it.

Qualitative question asking a participant to share how their menstrual symptoms affect their life

At the same time, this resource hopes to enable better advocacy – an urgent call for more research and funding for a deeper understanding of the etiology and pathophysiology of menstrual pain, an endeavor that will not only alleviate the experience of debilitating period-related pain, but also help distinguish it from other dangerous and life-threatening conditions that also induce pain.

Visualization of responses to symptoms experienced during menstruation


The project utilizes the textural experimental potential of computational art to map subjective experiences both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The act of answering the question hopes to give voice to menstruating people where their experience is often dismissed by social systems.

The transformation of responses into visuals hopes to enable an exploration of similar and differing experiences or perspectives, and lead to introspection and asynchronous discourse.

The website hopes to live on as a growing evolving imperfect incomplete personal collective community-moderated archive.


Interface for participants to color-code the locations in which they experience menstrual pain

“This may be a dataset the nature of which has never been collected”
Dr. Kevin Hellman, leading researcher on menstrual pain

Two participants interacting with Painfully Periodic during the MFADT 2024 End of Year exhibit