Tanzi Merritt’s “and language, and love.”

Tanzi Merritt's "and language, and love"

Tanzi Merritt’s “and language, and love” (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova)


We photographed Tanzi’s Love Letter tattoo last spring, on a beautiful day in May, when a class of Transylvania University students was graduating. As a Transy alumna and mentor extraordinaire, Tanzi was at the graduation. Because we don’t go anywhere without our cameras, we both had cameras. And so we had a quick and fun improvised photoshoot.

Nearly a year later, Tanzi sent us this story:

“When I first read the poem, I loved both of the phrases ‘and language’ and ‘and love.’ At the time, I had no idea how the artwork would be designed, so I wasn’t sure which I would end up with, if either.

Happily, when the downloads became available, I saw that these two phrases had individual designs, and that I could fit them together perfectly into one single tattoo.

Language and love both hold the greatest power. Both can be misused and taken for granted. Both can wound and both can heal. Both evolve and change, and both can die. Both can exalt and glorify, bring people together, or tear people apart. Both are nearly essential for our survival.

I started this with a more biographical post, but then I stopped. I stopped because, while the phrase does mean something to me specifically, my story isn’t what’s important. What’s important is the universality of these two lines, and how they both separate and connect all of us.”

P.S. If you want to see how all the tattoos create a beautiful whole, watch the video on the artwork website. Keep refreshing and playing it again: it is different every single time.