Friday, April 20, 2018

Reader's Diary #1798- Angela Hovak Johnston: Reawakening Our Ancestors' Lines

Angela Hovak Johnston's Reawakening Our Ancestors' Lines: Revitalizing Inuit Traditional Tattooing is a collection of photos and brief essays from participants in her amazing, admirable, and beautiful traditional tattooing project spearheaded by Johnston back in 2016.

With assistance from a traditional tattoo artist from Alaska, a contemporary tattoo artist from Yellowknife, a photographer, Elders, and more, Johnston explored the history behind the striking and unique cultural body art, including the shameful way it nearly died out altogether due to colonialist pressures. Most importantly she began tattooing new volunteers.

Because of the rapid decline in the art across the north and because Inuit from different communities assigned different meanings, there were differences in interpretation. Some suggested the tattoos traditionally had symbolic cultural meaning, other suggested they had more individually assigned symbolism, and still more suggested that the tattoos was for beauty, not symbolism at all.

In any case, for each volunteer in the project the art, the process, and the various symbols took on much importance. Most powerfully, it helped connect the volunteers with one another, with their families, and to Inuit communities past and present.

Flawlessly capturing these beautiful stories are crisp, artistic photos courtesy of Cora DeVos of Little Inuk Photography.

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