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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Tattoo: The story of people and body art through photography
‘Inked’ exhibit shows body art and our attachment
 
Published Wednesday, July 13, 2016 2:28 am
by Ashley Mahoney

Tattoos tell a story.

PHOTO/KEVIN MITCHELL
Dutchess Lattimore of VH1’s “Black Ink Crew” and owner of Pretty-N-Ink Tattoo shop.


While “Inked” is no longer on display at The Gallery South End, the stories told by those who were mentored by Mark Pendergrass and others involved in Creating Exposure through the Arts (a non-profit that empowers the next generation through artistic expression) continue to circulate throughout Charlotte.


“About five or six years ago, I was teaching a mentoring program at the YMCA, and Creating Exposure through the Arts was kind of in its incubating stage—it wasn’t quite 501 c3,” Pendergrass, Creating Exposure’s founder said. “One of the students had a tattoo, and that’s what really brought up the idea.”


Said Hakiym Roach, whose work was featured in the exhibit: “I was maybe 13-14, and my mom signed me up for a photojournalism glass at the YMCA. I met Mark then, and I’ve been shooting since. It’s awesome. It’s a great outlet. It’s a great hobby. I’m 22 now [and] in college. I’m an EMT in paramedic school, and I still have time to go out, take some photos and everything.”


Said Troy Montgomery: “[Creating Exposure] taught me how to actually interact with different people in different environments.”


From professional basketball players and football players with Charlotte ties like Anthony Morrow of the Oklahoma City Thunder and former Panthers defensive back Captain Munnerlyn to tattoo artist Dutchess Lattimore, the common thread tattoos reveal is that humans have more in common than they might think.


“It would have to be the one with Captain Munnerlyn,” Roach said of his favorite shot. “It was a really good experience with him and [Panthers linebacker] Thomas Davis and a few of the other Panthers. Everyone was around — it was a good energy. Good vibe. Also being a fan, fun time too. It was awesome.”


Although there are varying theories about body markings, some which have been equated to religion, the project illustrated that tattoos are quite common.


“One of the things that I noticed over the years as we did these [shoots], some of the people who are in the exhibit probably had one, maybe two tattoos five years ago, they’ve come back with more,” Pendergrass said. “We realized that it was a phenomenon, and that even though we are in the Bible Belt, it was like the norm for people to have a tattoo.”


Some tattoos are a conversation piece, while others memorialize a lost loved one, special accomplishment or moment in time. Regardless of language or heritage, tattoos have a way of connecting people.


“We had a diverse group of people—ethnicity, age, backgrounds, purpose, reasons, a lot of memorials,” Pendergrass said. “As much as people say that we are in the Bible Belt, it’s something that around the world people have tattoos. They have spiritual reasons. There are so many different reasons—we realized that tattoos are just the norm.”

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