if you have visited www.istara.org, you may have read this paragraph:
i became interested in tattoos in San Francisco, as part of the urban tribal underground art scene. i felt that the tattoo scene as a movement was a cultural effort to heal, through skin art, many many layers of our collective human suffering, through the individual story, and provide a new acceptance for the uniqueness of everyone’s path and expression to heal. eventually i acquired a tattoo machine, and it has become a healing art for me.
so what does this all mean to me? the urban tribal underground art scene? at the time it was where its at, people of various ages and diverse backgrounds, rejecting the homogenization of the masses through corporate programming and the cultish fervor of groups of all types that require adherence to a dogma or any conformity. artists, persons frustrated with the system and the hushing of human spirit, came together to confirm a possibility, that of freedom of expression, and respect for diversity. in a new turn to the idea of the wild west, a reclamation of individuality and a remembering of our pioneering spririt, exploring a new frontier, in a cyber age of maximum saturation, it became necessary sometimes to extrapolate our pain, to wear it boldly/to set it free.
the opposite of denial, acceptance. interest. a new means to relate, the forming of a tribal community in an urban setting, an attempt to make new definitions for living. finding a way to connect to nature through the ownership of ones body. all of these concepts are present in the current cultural tattoo revolution.
the surge in popularity and acceptance of tattoos in america is a reflection of this revolution. while people have always tattooed and gotten tattooed, in the last twenty years it has gone from an underground urban revolution to a very mainstream thing to do. it is the american spirit, even if the tattoos are symbols from other cultures, they have helped a person to reconnect to their native homeland, or spiritual homeland, and that is a part of the healing.
in addition to externalizing pain, tattoos are frequently acquired for the acknowledgment of a great joy, such as a sacred union, a child’s arrival, an anniversary of a momentous occasion, winning a great race, accomplishing a desired goal, celebrating years of being clean and sober, acknowledging a son or daughters passage into maturity, or even re-committing to one’s faith. maybe it is committing to one’s life, as many of my tattoos have symbolised for me.
i have discovered that tattoos remind me of how temporal our time incarnate is, and the eternal permanance of life. i imagine a day when i’m able to tell stories and show wrinkly faded tattoos to my grandchildren and wrinkly, toothless friends.