WMU News

Sociology group to explore tattoos in day-long campus seminar

Sept. 28, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- The tattoo, called everything from an act of rebellion to "a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling" will be the focus of a day-long seminar Saturday, Oct. 2, at Western Michigan University.

Session topics will range from "Professional Women With Tattoos" to "Gang Tattoos" and "The History of Tattoos." Presentations will be made by a variety of guest speakers in the event, which is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Knauss Hall. Those attending also will see professional demonstrations and a tattoo gallery exhibition as well as multimedia and vendor displays.

"The Tattoo Forum: History, Culture, Art" is the first academic conference sponsored by the asSOCiation, WMU's undergraduate sociology organization. The group intends to sponsor such an event annually to heighten intellectual exchange on an interdisciplinary level.

"Tatooing is such a great topic for an academic conference because it's both education and just plain interesting," says Sandra Schroer, forum coordinator and president of the asSOCiation. "This conference is unique because the topic was chosen based, specifically, on students' interests."

Presenters for the forum will include faculty members from WMU and colleges and universities across the country; a gang intervention unit coordinator with the Dearborn, Mich., Police Department; a plastic surgeon; and a professional tattoo artist.

The forum also will include an art exhibition on "Tattoos: Art and Expression." That exhibit, in the Space Gallery on the ground floor of Knauss Hall, will feature photographs of tattooed subjects by Ann Arbor photographer Diane Mansfield. The exhibition is sponsored by the University's Direct Encounter with the Arts program and by the Department of Art.

Departments across the University have been providing support for the event. In addition to the Departments of Art and Sociology, they include the Departments of Anthropology, Communication, English, History, Political Science and Psychology as well as the Kercher Center for Social Research and the Center for Women's Studies.

Shroer says more than 500 students are expected to attend the event that also is open to the general public. Cost of attending the seminar is $5. Advanced registration is available. To register, or for more information, contact members of the asSOCiation at (616) 387-5174.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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