The Story

The Boulder Tattoo Project, a large-scale community artwork, is a collaboration between partners-in-art Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, and Chelsea Pohl. Kurt and Kremena live and work in Lexington, KY. Both of them teach at Transylvania University. A native of Lexington, Chelsea is the founder and director of Locheart Arts in Boulder, CO, where she lives with her husband and two kids.

Kurt and Kremena have collaborated on various artworks for more than six years and have previously used tattoos, and the stereotypes frequently associated with them, as a teaching tool in the classroom.

The Boulder Tattoo Project is the second of its kind in the nation. It combines poetry, tattoos, photography, story-telling, pride of place and much much more into an artwork that celebrates Boulder and its people.

The tattoos are words and phrases of a poem that is, in essence, a love letter to the city of Boulder written by poet Anne Waldman, one of the founders of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets at Naropa University.

Kurt and Kremena created the inaugural community tattoo project in Lexington, KY.

“We’ve traveled the country working together on various projects,” said Kremena. “We never imagined we would get such tremendously positive responses to an artwork we created in our own hometown. It’s been amazing.”

The Lexington Tattoo Project has received national media attention and has drawn interest from people around the country who want the artists to create similar projects in their locales. In addition to Lexington and Boulder, a third city is working with Kurt and Kremena to launch its own Tattoo Project.

Originally from Lexington, KY, Chelsea heard about the project’s success in Lexington and thought it was a perfect pairing with the Boulder art scene. So she contacted the artists.

“The project marries multiple art forms and establishes community in a provocative and unequivocal way,” says Chelsea, who serves as Project Manager for the Boulder Tattoo Project. “There is also an opportunity for local businesses and individuals to receive recognition for their support of the arts through sponsorship. This is an exciting project.  We’ve received great feedback.”

The Boulder Tattoo Project includes commissioning a love poem to Boulder, written by Waldman, tattooing words and phrases from the poem on participants, documenting the process, photographing the finished tattoos, and collecting stories from the participants about the meaning of their chosen words. A year-long project, it culminated in April 2014 with a short film that showcases the finished tattoos and unveils the image that can only be seen when each of the tattoos is shown as part of the whole. The music for the film was composed by Gregory Alan Isakov as a special commission.

For more information about the Lexington Tattoo Project, visit lexingtontattooproject.com. Join the Boulder Tattoo Project online community on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheBoulderTattooProject.

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