From honor markings to adornment, tattooing has both ancient roots and modern influence. Identifying Marks explores and celebrates contemporary tattoo design through companion exhibitions on Samoan and Japanese tattoo traditions organized by the Japanese American National Museum, alongside a presentation of Arctic tattooing traditions and tattoo designs by Alaska artists.

The two major photographic exhibitions presented by the Japanese American National Museum include an exhibition showcasing the work of Samoan and Polynesian tattoo masters, apprentices and practitioners titled “Tatau: Marks of Polynesia,” and “Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Traditions in a Modern World,” an exhibition exploring the artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos and their rich history and influence on modern tattoo practices.

The Alaska works presented inspire a series of public programs focusing on tattoo practices in the North/Arctic, including traditional Inupiaq hand-poke tattoo, and will make connections to the tattoo art of contemporary Alaska artists and regional tattoo culture.

The traveling versions of Tatau: Marks of Polynesia and Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World are organized by the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California, toured internationally by Flying Fish, and supported, in part, by Mariko Gordon and Hugh Cosman. Identifying Marks is presented with support from Jan and Jeri van den Top and John and Carolann Weir.