Ink: Stories on Skin
By Jocelyn Ruiz
Tattoo art is an essential part of the historical and cultural side of Los Angeles.
From Aug.25 to Feb. 3 , The Museum of Latin American Art, MOLAA, in Long Beach, California is
having an exhibition called “Ink: Stories on Skin.”
The exhibition combines multiple local histories of Long Beach, The Pike amusement park district,
the U.S Navy, LA chicano culture and tattoo art.
Six community members share their personal stories such as Obed Silva, Melanie
Washington, Virginia Garcia, and Dylan Flores. All the stories are very inspiring to never give up
on yourself or what you believe in.
When you first go in, you get to learn about the U.S Navy in the 1930’s and how Long Beach was
known as the “Navy Capital” of the United States with more than 50,000 sailors and marines
stationed in the city. It explains how the sailors and marines became the main clients of tattoo
parlors in the citys amusement zone.
In this exhibit you also get to know more about LA Chicano culture and get to see a lot of
photographs from the 1940’s era in Los Angeles.
You learn how by the 1940’s, discrimination against Mexican-American community made it
difficult for Mexican-American youth to have access to higher education and as a result, these
youths created the pachuco/pachuca style. Pachucos/pachucas experimented with tattooing as
another form of cultural identification.
There is also a section where you learn how infections and hypatitis C, were a big risk because
everything was unsanitary. Tattoo artists would use the same needle on multiple people
which caused many problems.
They have a room called “The Legacy of Los Angeles Tattoo” which displays many artists work
all over the walls. This was my favorite because there were so many different designs and styles.
At the end of the exhibition, you are allowed to choose a necklace of your preference with a
symbol you feel like most represents you and what you stand for.
If you are looking to learn more about Long Beach and the tattoo culture or in need of tattoo
inspiration, this is the place to go. You will be inspired by all the artists.
The museum is open from Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5pm. On Thursdays they
extend their times until 9pm. General Admission is $10 per ticket and with a student ID its $7
per ticket. Admission is free all day on Sundays for everyone.