Visual Arts

Articles written exclusively by one member of our staff are notated accordingly. Articles in which more than one person contributed are marked as The Real Story Staff Report, while ones taken from press releases provided to us are referred to as Special to the Real Story.

The Forbidden Art

 Tattoos, derived from the word “tatau”, meaning “to mark”, have been around for over five thousand years. They have been used in a multitude of cultures that span the planet. The first-ever known tattoo was discovered in 1991, in central Europe, on the remains of a Bronze Age man, commonly known as the “Iceman”. His body had been preserved in the ice of the Alps mountain range, between Italy and Austria. In North America, the Chickasaws a Native American tribe, were recognized by their tattoos. After colonization, tattoos were identified with sailors, criminals and circus folk. The first recognized tattoo parlor opened up in New York City in 1891, although it was not until the 20th Century that tattooing became socially popular.

Ranging from symbolic or religious imagery to full-body and unique creations, tattoos can be as large or small as the imagination allows. Yet, art critics deny tattoos as a true art form. Considered to be simply illustrations, the “high art” community fails to recognize the expressive and communicative values through which tattoos reflect the culture of today, much as fine art and sculpture reflected the past.

Although tattooists have traveled a bumpy road, with stories of dirty needles, infections and diseases marring their history and threatening their profession, things are changing. The stereotypical view that tattoos equal underclass society is disappearing, as doctors, lawyers, teachers and accountants, as well as other upper-class professions become the newest “living canvas” for tattoos. With greater social acceptance, the tattoo business has now become the sixth-largest in the United States. Even so, it was not until 2006 that tattooing became legal in all 50 states, with South Carolina and, finally, Oklahoma being the last to accept this line of work.

Currently, in the USA, the most popular tattoo designs, referred to as “Flashes” in the field, are those of tribal designs, Kanji (Asian lettering) and religious symbols. Nevertheless, it is through “custom” designs that tattooists and the tattooed are able to truly express their artistic freedom and creativity, securing for them a place in the art world.

Originally Published in February 29, 2012


Portrait of the Artist: Andre Ray

Andre Ray has artistic talent in his blood, and it shows.  His great aunt was the celebrated Mississippi artist, Mary Katherine Loyacno McCravy.

Andre has been painting for about fifteen years.  During that time he graduated from Mississippi University for Women (MUW), with a BA in Fine Arts (2000), with an emphasis on Painting and Drawing.  He then moved to Kansas, to attend Emporia State University, where he earned a Master’s in Art Therapy.

After three years in The Plains, the call of the South led him back to Columbus, whereupon he fell in love with the South, especially its music and culture, once again.

Andre works primarily in oil paint.  His paintings are influenced by his travels and the people he has met, along the way.

An exhibit of his work is on display, through the end of March, at Café Aromas (404 Main Street | Columbus).

Originally Published in February 22, 2012 Print Edition

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