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I am not a visual artist. I don't even consider myself a visual person; I think more spatially than visually. During an elementary school writing lesson, I was asked to close my eyes and see a tree, then to describe the tree in words. I couldn't. While classmates raised their hands to talk about knot holes and birds' nests, I wondered why all I saw was black. When I read, I don't see scenes and characters; for me, I take in a mood more than anything else. Movies are about atmosphere. The same is true when I write.
Still, art is very important to me. I love color and texture. I'm inspired by the work of certain artists: Picasso, Matisse, van Gogh, Degas. I know the difference between Monet and Manet. I'm interested in the mind of Marcel Duchamp.
Art is a part of my life even though I'm not an artist. The most obvious way it's with me is in my tattoo.
This is a Picasso drawing. It's on my lower back (well, a version translated by a tattoo artist in Scranton, PA, is on my body). I had it done when I was twenty-two, and I'd recommend waiting at least until your twenties if you plan on getting a tattoo. For me, choosing something that had already stood the test of time—as an image I liked and as one that the world at large regards as art—was the right choice.
I plan on getting a new tattoo. Next Friday! This one won't be an image from a fine artist. It'll be a rose in deep pink, which stands for gratitude. I'm getting it with and for my mom, whose middle name is Rose. She's getting one, too.
Both tattoos will remind me of certain times in my life. Both represent visuals that I'm drawn to. And both are a way for me to make sure I don't forget to stop and see the beauty around me, and to remind myself that I am beautiful, too.
- Liz Gallagher