tattoohistorian.com showcases tattoo historian Anna Felicity Friedman’s current projects, Tattoo History Daily and Tattoo History Occasionally, and serves as a gateway to some of her other scholarship.
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An interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Friedman has been researching the history of tattooing for nearly 30 years, when, as a high school student, she wandered into the Peabody (now Peabody Essex) Museum’s library seeking to look at rare books that discussed sailor tattoos (ask her to tell the story!). She has been collecting tattoos on her own body since 1990. Dr. Friedman writes and lectures widely about tattooing and recently launched a new foundation, the Center for Tattoo History and Culture. She curated the tattoo material in the Freaks and Flash exhibition (2009) at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art and has offered curatorial consulting on several other exhibition projects. Several books are currently in the works; her newest, The World Atlas of Tattoo (Thames & Hudson and Yale University Press) came out in the fall 2015. In addition to her two blogs, she writes occasional articles for magazines and online publications (see the “Writing” tab for links to some of them). Recently she went back to school for data science in part to be able to advance tattoo-history research through digital humanities endeavors.
Although studying the history of tattooing and body art is a particular passion for her, she also has spent considerable time lecturing and publishing on other topics in visual culture including contemporary performance art (she also used to perform), rare books, and celestial cartography. For 10 years she taught a variety of classes at the university level at the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in diverse fields including art history, liberal arts, social sciences, visual and critical studies, performance art, and freshman core classes (that combined literature, art, and film studies). Before that she worked as the assistant curator in the History of Astronomy department at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, filled roles at other museums (Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and the Field Museum), and worked as an independent curator. She also plays bass in a band.