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It might have been the biggest crowd ever to turn out for a lecture at the Arkansas Arts Center, and it was given by a sociologist/kinesiologist from Canada. The subject: The sociology of tattooing. The audience: all over the place, from old ladies like yours truly to the highly tatted and pierced. Dr. Michael Atkinson, the speaker and a professor at McMaster University in Ontario, himself highly decorated, said he'd never spoken before so many kindred spirits and was clearly thrilled.
Before the talk, as the lobby began to fill, a long-time supporter of the Arts Center looked around at the crowd and said, "This is just what the Arts Center needs." Young people, people new to the Arts Center, and lots of them.
Atkinson's talk was lively and funny, but also academic, positing, for example, that tattooing is the last frontier — that because we have no new wide open spaces to explore, we're going inward. His book, “Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of Body Art,” which as his doctoral thesis was titled "Miscreants, Malcontents and Mimesis: Sociogenic and Psychogenic Transformation in the Canadian Tattoo Figuration," a name he was happy to shed, he said, is available in the Arts Center bookstore. It's $30; members get a 10 percent discount.