UNF professor studying U2 tattoos to display work at gallery

Cassidy Alexander

Beth Nabi, professor of graphic design and digital media, has been working with visual anthropologist Chris LeClere to catalogue U2 tattoos across the world. That project will be on exhibit at the UNF Gallery in August.

Starting August 15, ‘Ink, Icons, Identity: Exploring U2’s Brand Through Fan Tattoos,’ an exhibit of the U2 Tattoo Project, will be on display for a week at the UNF Gallery of Art in Founder’s Hall. The U2 Tattoo Project examines how a band with no singular mark or logo to identify itself can still be identified in different ways. It’s a project that studies the brand’s visual presentation as well as fan’s personal stories and interactions with those visuals.

UNF professor Beth Nabi interviews a fan as part of the U2 Tattoo Project. Photo courtesy Chris LeClere
UNF professor Beth Nabi interviews a fan as part of the U2 Tattoo Project. Photo courtesy Chris LeClere

“Why do people get tattoos, what do they mean, how do people kind of mark themselves and how are those marks received by others in the community, and why do they get these marks?” LeClere said of the questions the project is trying to answer.

“I think when you’re studying fandom, it’s about the stories that come out of them,” Nabi said. “And that was a shift that happened pretty early on as I went from thinking this was a study in design and in visuals and in visual communication, to it’s about stories.”

A U2 fan since she was 13, Nabi has since turned her passion for the band into an academic pursuit.

“U2 is kind of my own little religion,” she said.

While Nabi is a long-term fan of the band, LeClere wasn’t always interesting in the band’s music. He said that people don’t have to love the band to be interested in the project, and the exhibit.

“As trite as this sounds,” LeClere said, “all life is fleeting, and all moments are fleeting, and it’s amazing to see how people will appropriate something to kind of memorialize — good or bad — a moment in their life because we don’t ever want to kind of let go of something, do we?”

The exhibit will be on display in Founders Hall, Building 2, Room 2001 from Aug. 15-Aug. 26. There will be a free opening reception in the gallery from 4-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18.


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