Tom: Fear Not, Your Prayer is Heard

Thomas Morra’s tattoo of the angel Gabriel was done by Dave Peavy of Federal Hill Tattoo. We had just around 15 minutes to do our photo shoot, and, yet, somehow, shot after shot worked out for us. I’m always thinking, “i don’t quite know where it comes from, how it all comes together.” The story behind Tom’s tattoo is of the mystery of resources hidden from plain sight. He begins:

It was May of 2010, and I was sick as a dog. I had been down with bronchitis for 5 weeks, in and out of work, barely able to function, barely able to sleep. At just about 40 years old, I had never really been sick before… Maybe a one day flu a couple times, so I had no idea what this was, other than X rays with spots all over my lungs, horrible chest pain and the diagnosis of ‘bronchitis.’ No medicine or herbal remedies worked; I honestly thought it was something worse that the doctors were missing.

Gabi: “Stretched Skin”

Gabi Sciafani and I have collaborated to bring a new dimension to my work photographing altered states of the skin. In some sense this begins a new, independent project of using macro photography to explore all of the marks we bear. And that’s what I’ve been calling it, Marks We Bear. In another sense, this project is continuous. The colors you see in Gabi’s photographs are not altered from “reality.” They are the effects, unusual to be sure, of the particular lighting I’d arranged. So you might ask if Gabbi’s skin is luminously metallic blue and purple, and I’d be in the clear saying that it is. Gabi herself explains the reality. She begins:

My skin is stretched in certain places – long fingers of striated flesh that wrap around my hip bone, thighs and calves more subtly patterned with horizontal lines. Once angry red, they have faded to mere whispers of what they were. Yet to my touch they are the same as ever, textured silk.

“I’ve Been Meaning to Show You”

Jessica Bourget’s tattoo featured in these photos is one she designed herself. Her tattoo artist was Tate Dean of X Body Art Emporium, Swansea, MA.  The tattoo is in honor of her Dad, although he hasn’t known about it –until now, through these photos and Jessica’s writing, which follows. She has chosen this way to reveal the tattoo because, if you think about it, a tattoo can be kind of a tricky thing to reveal to your Dad. A tattoo can have so much meaning, that it can be hard to reveal it.

Robin: Holding the Wolf by the Ears

Shooting Robin Dionne’s tattoos was a pleasure as she wears a variety of tattoos, many in the American Traditional Style. Nick Pellegrino of Providence Tattoo was the artist who tattooed her Train, Flamingo and Latin Text tattoos. Luke Taylor of Hope St. Tattoo tattooed her Plane and Coffee Cup tattoos. I may have photographed more than just these tattoos listed, as they were plentiful and beautiful to photograph. As sometimes happens, my tattoo shoots create or reveal hidden connections between people. In this case, Robin turned out to be an old friend of a new colleague and friend of mine. We would have never known about this connection without the tattoos,

Robin explains some of the stories behind her tattoos:

Jade: Different Marks of Making a Difference

Jade Laurenza and I worked on three of her tattoos in this incredible shoot. Her United Nations Tattoo was done by Chris at East Coast Tattoo, Providence, RI. Her Chemistry tattoo was done by Jes at Marco’s Tattoo in Wakefield, RI. Her Tibetan Endless Knot tattoo was also done by Chris at East Coast Tattoo. Jade has written about each of these tattoos for us.

She begins: United Nations Tattoo:
My United Nations tattoo was initially representative of my naïve dreams of achieving world peace. I went through a long phase in my early twenties getting involved in activism, with the crisis in Darfur in particular. I can’t remember what sparked it, I’ve never particularly been the altruistic type, but something about the genocide there struck me.