We decided, at the very start of the Lexington Tattoo Project, that we would not have current students at Transylvania University (where we both teach) participate by getting a tattoo. Because we truly enjoy our students and because some of them made powerful arguments about why they should be included, this was an incredibly hard decision for us. We were pleased how quickly the students accepted our reasoning: this project is about community and though we were certain we could answer any questions that may have arisen about why we would give free tattoos to students, the tension in such questions could change the conversations surrounding this artwork for a long time. Thankfully, a handful of former students, who are now alumni of Transylvania, did participate in the project.
Calli Simons is one of them. Here is the story of her tattoo:
“I’ve always felt just a little bit different from everyone else. Being mixed race and 5’7” by the end of seventh grade made for an interesting contrast with most of my classmates. Even in my own family, small differences add up. I’m the only oldest child (both my parents are the youngest of their siblings) and the lucky one without astigmatism. ‘of the Universe’ reminds me that while we are all connected through the Universe, it is important to celebrate our differences and learn from other people’s experiences. ‘of the Universe’ reminds me to keep things in perspective, to remember that while I’m traveling through life, I may feel insignificant, but I’m still a part of a bigger picture. In choosing this tattoo, I unwittingly chose to have tattoo twins, but the small differences between the pattern on which our shared phrase is overlaid make each of us unique.”