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As an art form, tattoo flash is traditionally comprised of generic illustrations for walk-in customers, but is also graphic imagery easily accessible to the artist, collector, and admirer. People’s choices of flash from a parlor’s walls generally hold specific symbolic representation, and in relation to other tattooed works on the body, begin to create personal narrative. This work expresses the tragedy of my paralysis at the age of nineteen due to a gunshot wound, and the trials, tribulations, and triumph that followed. These works convey the emotions I encountered when confronting my paralysis, and the overwhelming pitfall of depression, hatred, and shame I had to overcome in response to a reckless act of violence. While these realities linger deeper than any physical scar, I have found healing through family and friends, martial arts, and visual arts. Through arrangements of graphic objects depicting my cultural heritage, aesthetic interests, and personal influences, the public bears witness to representations they can recognize, and begin to complete the narrative. Despite the personal nature of the compositions, the individual elements, as with flash, become desirable images independently associated to the individual. This collective contract between imagery and viewer, along with the help of decoders emphasize the use of symbols in a contemporary visual language.
A thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of MASTER OF FINE ARTS in STUDIO ART from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.
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