HERRON: What did you learn from interacting with the veterans? Is there anything about their stories or tattoos that stands out in your mind?

FLORA: I came into this project already having a personal connection to the military through my family as well as having tattoos myself. I was simply grateful for the veterans’ willingness to participate and I was surprised to discover how many of them were open to discussing their experiences. In this way, we were invited to see the individual behind the uniform. Of course, the most beautiful stories were of tattoos in memoriam of those they had lost, but I also found immense admiration for stories simply about their journey. I was moved by stories about how their legs carried them, music healed them, and how something as simple as a rose can represent the beauty of their love and devotion to our country even in their most fragile states.

CARRICO: There was a couple named Amanda and Nick who came to the last shoot together and they had so many tattoos that I was in awe of how many they had and how magnificent they were. They met each other at the airport simply discussing their tattoos, then Nick asked her out and now they are married. The way we displayed their photographs in the gallery shines a light on love and unison, even within a context that makes us think of times of war.

HERRON: How many photographs will be on display at the Campus Center?

CARRICO: There will be 18 photographs and an assembly of all the participants’ portraits in a representation of an American flag. It represents IUPUI’s veterans in a manner that makes me proud to say that I worked on this project and contributed to telling their stories. Though I didn’t write anything, the photographs speak for themselves.

HERRON: Do you have plans to continue this project?

CARRICO: Currently, this a standalone piece, but there may be more development in the future. What surprised us was the difficulty in looking so far ahead to the curation of the work before we had finished it. We had to think about everything all at once before we were even able to take the photographs. In the future, if we had a bigger space we would love to add on to this body of work, allowing us to include all of the participants' tattoos as well.

"Military Tattoos @ IUPUI" will be on display in the Cultural Arts Gallery on the first floor of the IUPUI Campus Center from Nov. 9, 2017 to Jan. 3, 2018. Learn more about the exhibition via News at IUPUI.