I have been thinking a lot about identity lately. And it seems to be popping up all around me in discussions, books, the radio. In this world growing ever more culturally complex and often times flat, it can be difficult to know where we fit in. Some of us live in strong communities shaped by culture, others rally together at being outcasts, or intentionally independent of their communities. Something that has made its way under my skin and started to itch over the last few years is the increasing number of people in this country who identify (when asked) solely with their job - Person A asks: “What do you do?” and person B answers “Oh, I am an accountant.” Or waitress, or whatever. But that doesn’t answer the heart of the question, or perhaps we ask the wrong question. If someone asked “Who are you?” The answer surely wouldn’t be 'an accountant'.
I am proposing a series of questions that will hopefully encourage you to think a little more deeply and a little more creatively about 'who' you are. I believe that all things are connected, that instincts, behaviors, emotions occur like fractals from plants to animals, individuals to the larger communities. I am enthralled by the ancient ways many native cultures find symbolic guidance in nature by observing the behavior or instincts of plants and animals and can connect those on a larger scale to themselves and their communities.
I am sending these questions to people from all over the spectrum of life, to people who I find beautiful and complex and who I am both curious and excited to see how they view (identify) themselves. Even if getting a tattoo is way off your radar, it is nevertheless a permanent fixture to one’s body and therefore requires careful consideration.
I am asking these questions to inspire a series of art pieces. The tattoo concept will lend itself both to the style of the pieces and also to the weight of thought that I ask for in answering these questions. They are a good way for me to collect enough visual information to piece together a tattoo that would tell the part of your story you have revealed here. If after reading/answering these questions to yourself you have an idea of a tattoo concept, I would love to have you send it to me.
1. What do you identify as? (example: mom, teacher, student, artist, black, asian, Mexican, human, earthling etc.)
2. Where do you live & why? (family, work, school, “the vibe” etc.)
3. What is your role in your community?
4. What kind of landscape are you? (feel free to be generous with visual details)
5. To what extent are you concerned with your food origins?
6. Name 3-7 plants, animals or insects you identify with and why.
7. What connects you to Earth? (example: art, culture, food, hobbies, community, the environment etc.)
-Why? (feel free to be as specific as you’d like and to include more than one)