Shifting Perspectives

Shambhavi. Cosmic Seeds Light / Beej Brahmaand Ek. 2011 292

Etching and aquatint on twenty cotton pulp sheets with embedded thread, dimensions variable upon installation. Gift of the Contemporary Arts Council. © 2022 Shambhavi

Tann Parker: My name is Tann Parker. I am a non-binary, African-American, femme tattoo artist based in Brooklyn, New York. I'm the founder of Ink the Diaspora, a platform dedicated to challenging colorism in the tattoo industry.

You are looking at an artwork by the artist Shambhavi. It's called Cosmic Seeds Light, and it's made up of 20 singular papers. They're not perfectly round. They have some imperfect shapes to them. The whole piece looks like cut wood.
I feel like they're this organic, little life form cause they feel like these different entities, but then just taking it back you see their similarities. They look like they're from I don’t know, colony. I kept calling them colonies, but in like terms of community. They are individual, because I can see different details in each of them, but somehow they're still together. I feel like we do have our own colonies that we're into and that we're belonging to, but it doesn't mean we're not all still in the same community. Like just because I'm in New York, it doesn't mean I can't hold community with someone in LA or, like another state.

I think about that in the work I'm doing with Ink the Diaspora. The work is storytelling. A lot of people see it as activism. But also the work is seeing a representation of yourself or someone who looks like you doing the tattoos. Tattooing introduced me to more people. It allowed me to meet people who look like me. Showing that representation of a queer tattooer or trans tattooer of color. The importance of that and what it leads to is a lot of folks finding themselves and being comfortable.

And this artwork, it’s showing the importance of community—I see that safety. I see myself out there.

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