Josie Engelbreth’s “and you feel”

“This phrase is my reminder of what it is so very hard to do: feel, something so simple, yet so difficult. I had been numb for years, pushed my emotions far down, hoping they wouldn’t surface. Fear, sadness, anger, even joy, I didn’t want to feel any of them. About a year ago I woke up with a knot in my stomach and an overwhelming urge to run hard and fast. So I ran for miles on end, trying to make this horrible feeling go away, but I couldn’t run it out of me. I decided that all those feelings that I had pushed into hiding were rising up, fighting to get out and be expressed. And I felt…

The placement of my tattoo was an easy decision. I wanted it to be where I could see it, as could others. My hope was for people to read it, ask about it, and then dive in and see what they are feeling. I will never get tired of looking down and seeing the stars; they make me smile every time.

The Boulder Tattoo Project has been such an amazing experience for me. I love being out and having someone come up to me to show me their tattoo with a big smile on their face. There is an instant connection, a story to be told, a friendship to be made. It is like having a family that you didn’t know you had and meeting new members of this unusual family one at a time.”

Josie Engelbreth

Josie Engelbreth’s “and you feel”

Sheila A. “Sheba” Sullivan’s “once ocean”

“Instantly drawn to ‘once ocean,’ my first choice—I accept these words in several contexts: Colorado and the West, ancient oceans, the many strata of prehistory in geology…

‘once ocean’ resonates with my own cosmic connections: I was ‘once ocean’—a connection to all Life within this biosphere. Just as we are all ‘star stuff,’ we were all ‘once ocean,’ too—in this ‘ocean universe,’ on this blue planet.

re: the placement … on my left shoulder:

I’ve come to think of this tattoo as my ‘angel on my shoulder.’ When I spot it in the mirror, I smile—proud to have been a part of this Project—and glad to have been BRAVE enough to jump into the Project—with both feet!

I had been considering a tattoo (or two) for almost 10 years. The time and the idea of being a part of this special community, confirming my LOVE of Boulder … FELT right. This was not an impulsive decision, but a well-considered one—for when the time felt auspicious.


Although my immediate neighborhood did not flood during Katrina, my life was forever changed by the event. I lost many items in the move (due to others who did not care, including my landlord of 12 years and the first mover I made arrangements with). I was keenly aware of emotions—with both the hurricanes in the northeast and this amazing Boulder flood. We had minimal flooding in the basement of my residence in Boulder during the FLOOD of 2013. I lost about $100 worth of materials (art supplies). Numerous colleagues were affected, some losing much, as did many whom I knew in New Orleans during Katrina. We move forward, embracing the revelations of these floods, charged with a resolve to be stronger in community.”

Sheila A. Sheba Sullivan

Sheila A. Sheba Sullivan’s “once ocean”

Ally Chapel’s “of modernity,”

“When I first read about the Boulder Tattoo Project, I knew I had to be a part of it. At the time, I was going into my senior year as an Art History major and Technology Arts and Media minor at CU. I fell in love with Boulder almost immediately after having arrived for school three years prior. One of the classes I was in while going through the first steps of the Boulder Tattoo Project process was on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. A term that encapsulated much of the class was modernity, which was coined by Charles Baudelaire, who was a renegade poet and art critic. Baudelaire focused on the art coming out of Paris around the 1840s. He utilized the term modernity to describe the unfolding of a new way of life in a dense urban environment and the impact of technology upon society and art. We now live in a time that embodies this change and technology is evermore a part of our present and future.

The excuse for academic art until the rise of Impressionism was that it portrayed the ‘heroic’ life of the ancient world, but, for Baudelaire, it was necessary for artists to be of their own time. Baudelaire argued that modern life was as heroic as ancient life and that men in frock coats were as brave in their own time as the Roman gladiators were in the arena. We must live in the now; however, that always means looking forward as well. We must not be so blinded by our lives as to not think about what we will leave behind and what world we will be living in. We must be the heroes in the creation of our art, our love and respect for the people around us, our care of the Earth and the appreciation of our own lives. We are the gladiators of our time. We must use our intelligence and our strength so that technology can aid us is solving the problems of our world, instead of our depending on it to do so.

On a personal level, technology has given me strength. Because of surgeries I had as a child and a hearing aid, I only struggle minimally with a hearing impairment. Thus, technology and I are one, and it has ceaselessly been a part of every aspect of my life. I have been fortunate to develop speech normally and am able to play music, which is a major part of my life, possibly because I have a deep-rooted appreciation for the ability to listen to it. For me, technology has created a new way of life, separate from the one I may have led.

Rhythm is as much a part of music as it is of all art. Humans have given life to art with the use of rhythm, much like the beating tempo of our hearts that keeps us alive. Baudelaire was looking for the artist who could capture modernity or the pulse of his/her own time. I want to continue and forever keep the pulse of my time. To live and be present now, and to always know that every moment was once the future. As an artist, I want to remember, as Baudelaire puts it, ‘to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.'”

Ally Chapel

Ally Chapel’s “of modernity,”

Kennedy Berry’s “a Buddha,”

“I chose ‘a Buddha,’ as my phrase because the Buddha means a lot to me. I attend Naropa University and am a practicing Zen Buddhist. I remember my professor in my freshman seminar class saying, ‘To many, a Buddha is a fat man who brings peace or just Siddhartha, who is looked at as the only Buddha. In reality, a Buddha is a person’s spiritual enlightenment, someone who has lost the attachment to their ego and found true happiness in the love of themselves, others, and the world they live in.’ I hope to be that type of person and my tattoo is a reminder of that goal every day.”

Kennedy Berry

Kennedy Berry’s “a Buddha,”

Kat Burns’ “dawn”

“’Everything is connected to everything else.’

This statement is important to me in a variety of ways. It’s a chant, actually—meant to build up energy within a group. Being part of the Boulder Tattoo Project feels amazing—like I AM connected to everyone else through this poem. Beyond the obvious connection to the other participants, I feel connected to Boulder (so awesome) and, most importantly, I am reconnected with myself.

My word is ‘dawn.’ I believe that one of the most beautiful sights in Boulder is the Flatirons at sunrise. They turn a breathtaking pink color. It only lasts for a fleeting moment, but if you catch it, it will take your breath away. I’m not a morning person, so for me seeing it is a gift. But dawn isn’t just about the morning. For me it also represents beginnings, the act of stepping forward into something new. It’s the start of a journey. It’s an opening into something glorious. It’s the little lightbulb when you have a grand idea. That’s what ‘dawn’ is to me … a beginning.

My life has been filled with many beginnings (and many endings as well). At the time I learned of the Project, I was at another of these pivotal points in my life, just after a rather heart-wrenching breakup. I moved and started living alone for the first time in a decade, and instead of feeling down, I was feeling independent and strong. This realization was a powerful thing—powerful enough to get a very spontaneous tattoo to celebrate. Honestly, I’m usually not that rash! I plan my tattoos for years at a time. This one just felt right.

I put the tattoo on the back of my shin because it feels like I am stepping forward. And I am. I am at the dawn of something new. And I have reconnected with who I am. By connecting with others through this Project, I’m allowing myself to be open to the journey ahead. Chant the mantra with me now …

Everything is connected to everything else.

Everything is connected to everything else.

Everything is connected to everything else.”

Kat Burns

Kat Burns’ “dawn”