Body, flesh, skin, canvas : black/queer/women and tattoos as diasporic art, reclamation, and performance
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Body, Flesh, Skin Canvas: Black/Queer/Women and Tattoos as Diasporic Art, Reclamation, and Performance concerns black/queer/women’s participation in tattoo culture in the United States. Considering the relationship between Tattoo, Diaspora, Gender and Sexuality, and Performance studies, Body, Flesh and Skin Canvas works to reveal the critical possibilities that emerge from centering the narratives of black/queer/women who participate in tattoo practices. Through the study of the first noted black tattoo artist Jacci Gresham, artist-activist-scholar Karmenife, and my own autoethnographic accounts, I intend to explore the various ways tattoo culture has been used as a method towards, and expression of reclamation, self-possession, and self-fashioning for a group that has historically been relegated to the margins of a heteropatriachial, white supremacist society. Using black feminist theory, visual analysis, and performance studies methods, I interrogate the ways black/queer/women are signifying on the practice of tattooing through fleshly concepts of diaspora. Ultimately, this paper shows how black/queer/women’s participation in tattoo culture generates a potent discussion on how one can utilize the body, skin, and flesh as an artistic surface and canvas, that has the power to express, heal, and reaffirm individual and communal identity.