The Morikami Gets Ink’d at New Tattoo Exhibit, Opening Feb. 26

Chances are good that everyone knows someone with a little ink.

Tattoos have become a form of fashion and self-expression in the U.S. that reaches just about every demographic.

Approximately 20 percent of adults, aged 18 and up, have at least one tattoo; around 14 percent have two or more. Forty percent of American households report having at least one person with a tattoo, which is a significant increase over 1999, when only 21 percent of household did so. (1) Celebrated on reality shows and sported openly, tattoos have achieved the legitimate status of art form – some amateur, some professional.

So when The Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden debuts its next exhibit on the dynamic artistry, history, cultural impact and legacy of traditional Japanese tattoos (known as irezumi), visitors will no doubt relate to the colorful imagery on the walls, which in some cases, may match the colorful imagery on their bodies.

From February 26 through May 8, 2016, Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World will be on display in the main galleries. Exhibition-related programming includes Tattoo Day on February 27 and The 108 Heroes of Los Angeles, a talk by Horishiki, on April 8.

Featuring works by seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists, Perseverance showcases the decorative pictorial tattoo, which evolved gradually during the 18th century, hand in hand with the popular woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world.”

A variety of photographs, including life-sized pictures of full body tattoos, covers a broad spectrum of the current world of Japanese tattooing. The level of skill and detail displayed in the ukiyo-e body art create memorable illustrations of past and present coming together to create something truly unique.

Japanese tattoos have moved into the mainstream, but their artistry and legacy remain enigmatic and misunderstood – often copied without regard to their rich history, symbolism, or tradition. However, Japanese tattooists have pursued their passions, applied their skills, and have risen to become internationally acclaimed artists. Through their endurance and dedication, Japanese tattooing as a genre of art has persevered and has become internationally renowned for its artistry, lineage and historical symbolism.

Photo Credit: New Times Broward Palm Beach

Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World was organized by the Japanese American National Museum, created, designed and photographed by Kip Fulbeck, and curated by Takahiro Kitamura (Ryudaibori, formerly Horitaka). This exhibition was funded in part by the Henry and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
For information about Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World, visit


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