Art of tattooing

By: Annie Sragner, Assistant Arts and Life Editor

Towson is aiming to abolish some of the negative stereotypes that surround body art by introducing the exhibition “Perseverance — Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World.”

Abby Murphy/ The Towerlight
Abby Murphy/ The Towerlight

“Students will become exposed to different styles of tattooing and the history of it to know how this art works, where it comes from, what the symbolisms are and how this amazing artwork is evolving,” Associate Professor Nahid Tootoonchi said.

The exhibition features a synthesis of Japanese art forms with the abundantly rising American custom of tattooing.

“It is a good part of art history, art form and expression of the styling of tattooing,” Tootoonchi said. “The exhibition is quite rich.”

The exhibition presents art displays as well as a computer featuring a website where the artists talk about their work, where they come from and how they got involved with this art form.

“This exhibition of photographs by Kip Fulbeck explores the master craftsmanship and ongoing influence of traditional Japanese tattooing,” Director of the Asian Arts and Culture Center Joanna Pecore said.

The exhibition, curated by master tattoo artist and author Takahiro Kitamura, presents the work of seven internationally acclaimed Japanese-style tattoo artists: Horishiki (Chris Brand), Horitaka, Horitomo, Junii, Miyazo, Shige, Yokohama Horiken and more.

“With a unique display designed by Fulbeck to reference the craft’s roots in ukiyo-e and other Japanese art forms, the exhibition showcases both the splendor and the intricacy of modern tattooing,” Pecore said.

The display concentrates first on the influence from Japan, and then also features other styles and their relationship to Japanese art and culture.

Abby Murphy/ The Towerlight
Abby Murphy/ The Towerlight

Tootoonchi said that the exhibition itself was also constructed with a focus on education.

“All of this information is available in the exhibition. … Students should take their time and read behind all of the symbols which have been explained,” Tootoonchi said.

It is the hope of these artists that this spotlight on tattooing as art eliminates common presumptions about tattoo culture and showcases the beauty in the permanence of body art.

“Many of our youth gets tattoos, one-fourth of our youth gets tattoos and many women do more so than men,” Tootoonchi said. “Having [this exhibition] in the gallery gives it some value to look at tattooing differently and to not think negatively about the art.”

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