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Curating Tattoos? Valentine Project Focuses on Body Art

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The Valentine to Richmond: Show us your tats!

Famous for cataloging all things River City, the Valentine Richmond History Center plans to venture into a different kind of historical archiving. The museum will document Richmond-area tattoos and the work of local tattoo artists, museum director Bill Martin says.

“Given that we are the No. 3 market for tattoos in the nation, I’d say this project is very relevant,” Martin says. “Tattoos are an important part of life in this city.” Style Weekly is a co-sponsor of the project.

With “History, Ink: The Tattoo Archive Project,” the Valentine invites anyone with a tattoo created by a Richmond artist to be photographed by the museum, with the best images making it into the institution’s permanent collection.

“We will show them off on a Flickr page initially, but there may also be a potential exhibit in the Valentine,” Martin says. This fleshy initiative may raise eyebrows among the city’s old guard, but he says the project makes sense considering the museum’s mission of “collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond.”

“With this, we’re continuing the process of documenting community life,” Martin says. Detailed information on the “History, Ink” project will be made available at this weekend’ 19th annual Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival, scheduled for the Greater Richmond Convention Center. The first photography session will happen at the museum during Style’s Midseason Arts Party on Feb. 8.

“This story is evolving,” Martin says. “Richmond has some amazing tattoo artists and we need to document tattoos like it was any other art form.”

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