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The History And Legacy Of Indiana Tattooing Culture

The exhibit will feature art from both contemporary and historic Hoosier tattooers.

According to a 2010 Pew Research Center Study, nearly 40 percent of Americans aged 18-29 have at least one tattoo.

On this week’s Noon Edition, we’ll discuss the origins of Indiana’s tattoo culture. From folk art on sailors to the designs seen on outlaws and weight lifters, the images are artifacts that show an often untold history of Indiana.

From 1963 through 1996, tattooing was illegal in the Hoosier state, though it didn’t stop the practice from continuing.

Our guests will discuss how tattoos often signified the status of individuals, and what that means now that tattooing has become more commonplace.

During the turn of the century in Indiana, as well as much of The United States, tattooing was taboo and hid from mainstream society, with much of the earliest history remaining oral.

“They didn’t want you to know that they had tattoos.They weren’t putting it out there. A lot of people looked down on people for having tattoos. And you were more of like, a scumbag. And they didn’t want anything to do with you. People would take on different names to do something like that.” said Eric Smolinski.

Smolinski is the owner of the Roy Boy collection in The Grunwald Gallery of Art’s newest exhibit, Indiana Tattoo: History and Legacy.

Rebecca Fasman, the manager of traveling exhibitions at The Kinsey Institute said that tattooing in the early days, “…had more to do with wanting to be attractive to a certain group of people. The idea that you have this connection through this body decoration that you have, created this bond at a time when not many people had tattoos.”

Jeremy Sweet and Colin McCalain will each be giving talk at the opening of the exhibit, which will run through February 13th.


You can follow us on Twitter @NoonEdition or join us on the air by calling in at (812) 855-0811 or toll-free at 1-877-285-9348.


Jeremy Sweet, Associate Director of The Grunwald Gallery of Art
Eric Smolinksi, Owner of Roy Boy Collection, Tattooer
Rebecca Fasman, Manager of Traveling Exhibitions, Kinsey Institute
Jeremy Sweet, Associate Director of The Grunwald Gallery of Art

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