Stories on Skin
Learn about Los Angeles County’s vibrant immigrant population through the most personal of art forms: the tattoo. Different cultures throughout the world have long used tattooing to symbolize their beliefs; however, the motifs, traditions, and techniques vary greatly from people to people. What is the cultural significance of these tattoos, and what stories do they have to tell? Join us for an exciting series of virtual programs exploring the cultural significance of tattoos to LA County’s Chicano, Black and African, and AAPI communities.
This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.
Chicanx Tattoo Traditions with Dr. Xuan Santos
Saturday, December 4, 11:30 am on Webex
The style of tattooing called “black and gray realism” has its roots in East Los Angeles’ Chicanx culture. LA native Dr. Xuan Santos discusses the history, aesthetics, and cultural significance of one of the world’s most distinctive, in- demand tattoo styles.
Tattooing the African Diaspora with James Spooner
Saturday, December 11, 11:30 am on Webex
While Black, Indigenous, People of Color are deeply connected to tattoo history, the industry is riddled with misinformation when it comes to dark skin. James Spooner, who specializes in tattooing richly pigmented skin, will dispel those myths, and advise on how to get a quality tattoo. He will also discuss African body modification traditions and their ties to current tattoo practices.
Samoan Tatau and Japanese Irezumi with Sulu’ape Si’i Liufau and Taki Ryudaibori Kitamura
Saturday, December 18, 1:00 pm on Webex
Delve into the beauty and tradition of Samoan Tatau and Japanese Irezumi with 2 of its most revered practitioners, Sulu’ape Si’i Liufau and Taki Ryudaibori Kitamura. Discover why these tattoo legacies endure, and their role in the preservation and prosperity of Samoan and Japanese culture.
Photo courtesy of Harrison Troung, @harry3oi.
Share Your Tattoo Stories
Tattoos are stories, memories, and cultural history. We invite you to share your tattoo story with us. Does your tattoo celebrate your cultural background? Is it in remembrance of a loved one? A design that you fell in love with and needed on your body? Whatever your story, we want to see and hear it! Submit images of your tattoo along with a written narrative of its meaning. Submissions will be reviewed and then posted on our BiblioBoard community collection.
Prefer to share your tattoo stories on social media? Post and tag @LACountyLibrary and use the hashtag #LAStoriesOnSkin.