I don’t have a Zia tattoo. Nonetheless, I wear New Mexico.
Like many, my teen years were rife with moments I can only cringe at today. Some of my most memorable, brattiest reveries include pouting until I had a pair of Pony sneakers like my idols KoRn. Most notably, however, for months, I sighed and rolled my eyes and scowled because my mother would not allow me to get a tongue piercing.
One day, she offered a compromise:
“Get a tattoo.”
I am not sure why this was a better alternative to her, but I was quick to jump on it.
One Friday night my junior year of high school, she, my sister and I went to the closest shop: Mijo’s New Image, the only one in the northeast heights of Albuquerque at the time. I picked up the nearest magazine and started flipping through the pages. I had never met nor cared to learn about the artist. And I picked this.
I cannot find it in me to get removed or covered up. It is my genesis.
15 years later, I lose count when I try to tally my current collection.
I have bangers from Friday the 13th block parties that I cherish more for their memories with my friends than their images. I have a piece I got on a sort-of whim amidst the chaos and excitement that was attending my first convention. I am currently undergoing laser removal treatment. I have used the physical pain of getting tattooed as a meditative process to let go of coincidental emotional torment (heartbreak, to be precise). I have about 25 hours of work on my upper right arm. I have a cover-up. I have endured an infection. I have a conglomerate of my mother’s favorite things and therefore what most would accept as the one with the most “meaning.”
I think she assumed I would stop at my first—the one she offered.
“Why can’t you just wear a nice necklace instead?” “You had such beautiful skin.” And the clincher: “Where did my daughter go?”
Notwithstanding my mother’s convictions, my tattoos are my way of claiming my body and proclaiming my sovereignty and my identity. As much as I can be allowed into the tattoo culture despite having absolutely no artistic skill whatsoever, I devour every facet of it.
Nonetheless, all of my ink has one thing in common: all of it was acquired in New Mexico.
I am not a rebel. I am not a member of a subculture. I am not intentionally making a statement against feminine beauty ideals. I am not damaged. Like these pieces reflect….
I am merely a storyteller. One who lives in a wonderful time where I can wear and expose my stories.
While I understand art and one’s body are both extremely subjective realms, I hope to share my experiences here not entirely as a reviewer, but mainly as someone whose stories—those set in this wonderful state—hopefully inspire others to find the best way of telling theirs.
I look forward to sharing my journeys into the diverse, amazing world that is the New Mexico tattoo culture.