A Historical Tattoo For the City of Salem

By Chris Ricci

The impact that art has on an individual is, at points, immeasurable. Everyone has pieces they love, and the way people express their love can manifest in a myriad of ways. Some people purchase prints, while others take the time to have things they love etched onto their skin in the form of a tattoo. Regardless of the means, it’s hard to deny the global effect that art has had on our culture. This begs a rather esoteric question: how would the Earth show it’s love for art?

The Peabody Essex Museum has long been one of my favorites; it creates an impressive educational journey using cultural artifacts and trade goods to introduce the places and peoples we were connected to by trade.
— Liz Lamanche

Somerville based artist Liz LaManche has not only asked this question before, but is also attempting to answer it in the form of her upcoming installation “Connected by Sea”: an arts project derived from the nautical history of Boston, and transcribed to the form of a tattoo. Funded successfully by a Kickstarter campaign in October, the “Connected by Sea” plans on creating the world’s largest tattoo on the main pier at HarborArts in East Boston. Liz’s creativity doesn’t stop there, as she has proposed a similar project in our own backyard.

It’s hard to deny the vast and diverse history Salem has through the sea, highlighted strongly by the East India Marine Society’s founding of the Peabody Essex Museum. “Salem was settled by fishermen and later grew to be deeply connected to the rest of the world through a thriving commercial trade, which helped to drive the economy and prosperity of the whole region” said Liz in a recent proposal. “The Peabody Essex Museum has long been one of my favorites; it creates an impressive educational journey using cultural artifacts and trade goods to introduce the places and peoples we were connected to by trade.”

What exactly is Liz proposing? It’s quite simple: a companion piece to her successful “Connected by Sea” installation that uses Salem as a canvas. The city-wide tattoo project would stretch through the Old Town Hall area and would draw upon Salem’s ethnic and nautical history. “The museum has a great collection of source material, and I have also done a lot of research on local tribes and their art history. Next, New England Sailors, best evoked through the language of traditional sailor tattoos, which also has a lot of resonance in  current popular art and tattooing,” said Liz. “Visitors could walk the pathways throughout the central area around the Old Town Hall, following a progression of motifs or simply discovering one after another. A pamphlet or signage could explain the origin and significance of each.”

The proposed project would last for months and would provide an artistic insight the likes of which Salem has never seen. And, as Liz highlights, this is a project that will give people a chance to understand the history of Salem in a new and provocative way. “This project is aimed at anyone who walks through the area,” she said. “Having signage that will add layers of meaning and background to the piece will be welcome for tourists, students, people interested by the cultural or tattoo art appeal of the motifs, and anyone who  wants to explore the area at greater depth.”


Proposal Examples, Actual project will vary

This project is being presented and funded by the City of Salem in association with the newly formed Public Art Commission and with the guidance of the City of Salem public art director Deborah Greel.

Check back with Creative Salem for more information on this project. For more information on Liz LaManche, check out her website below

 

http://earthsign.com/