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Expressive Arts and the Body

Wendy Phillips, PhD, MS, LMFT's picture
MA Psychology-Counseling Blog
Expressive Arts and the Body

Last October, my Jungian Seminar in New Orleans coincided with Halloween. So you can imagine the metaphysical and celebratory possibilities there were in NOLA at that time. Among the offerings was the Voodoo Music Festival with rock music, art, and of course food! Our hotel, the Best Western in Metairie hosted the Tattoo VooDoo Expo.

I was drawn to the decorations of the exhibition space and amazed was by the bodies of the participants. Each as a living, walking, embodied canvas. The participants seemed to enjoy being in the presence of other artists. There were prizes as well as the opportunity for the creation of this “body work” during the convention itself.

I met Dwayne LeGrand in the parking lot and he agreed to let me photograph his tattoos. Dwayne told me the story of the friendship between himself and Ty Latiolais, a tattoo artist. Dwayne and Ty grew up together. Dwayne went into the military and they lost touch with each other. Dwayne is a supporter of social media as a way to communicate, since this is how he reconnected with his friend Ty. Ty is a tattoo artist and Dwayne describes himself as “Ty’s canvas”. Ty and Dwayne came to the festival to experience it together. Artist Ty’s business is Big Easy Tattoos.

And so, as someone who does not have a tattoo, I wonder what it is like to receive one. It feels like a ritual. I think about the intimacy of the experience as the artist creates a work on the client’s skin. It is a process that is also collaborative as the client has an idea of an image or word or symbol and the tattoo artist brings it to fruition using inks and tools applied to the skin. I think about what it may be like to live with an image in this way. An image or symbol that actually becomes part of the body, embedded within it and which changes as the body morphs and evolves over time.

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