Inked In… New Research Reveals Tattoo Ink Particles Circulate Inside the Body

First of its kind research by scientists in Germany and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France has revealed that tattoo ink leaves behind micro and nanoparticles that travel inside the body. The scientists conducted an in depth characterization of the ink pigments in a lab experiment involving tattooed tissues. The hazards generally associated with tattoos are to do with the use of needles, but this research implies the circulating ink particles could pose risks, too.

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, demonstrated how these elements from tattoo inks — organic and inorganic pigments, as well as toxic element impurities traveling as micro and nano particles — actually reach the lymph nodes, a key component of the body’s immune system.

“We already knew that pigments from tattoos would travel to the lymph nodes because of visual evidence. The lymph nodes become tinted with the color of the tattoo. It is the response of the body to clean the site of entrance of the tattoo,” lead author and ESRF visiting scientist Bernhard Hesse explained in a press release. “What we didn’t know is that they do it in a nano form, which implies that they may not have the same behavior as the particles at a micro level. And that is the problem—we don’t know how nanoparticles react.”

While most tattoos contain organic color mixtures, they can also contain preservatives and contaminants such as nickel, chromium, manganese, or cobalt. The most common ingredient in tattoo ink is carbon black, followed by titanium dioxide (TiO2) — a compound also used in food additives, sun screens, and paints. TiO2 has been associated with delayed healing, skin elevation, and itching in the case of white ink tattoos.

However, there’s a lot we don’t yet know about the potential impurities in tattoo ink mixtures. The researchers further investigated using two ESRF beamlines called ID21 and ID16B, which revealed micro and nanoranges of TiO2 in the tattooed skin and the lymphatic environment. Only the smaller particles were transported to the lymph nodes, but those appear to be enough to cause chronic enlargement and lifelong exposure.

“When someone wants to get a tattoo, they are often very careful in choosing a parlor where they use sterile needles that haven’t been used previously. No one checks the chemical composition of the colors, but our study shows that maybe they should,” ESRF scientist Hiram Castillo, one of the study’s authors, said in the press release.

This research is important, especially with the development of advanced, tattoo-based technologies. Moving forward, the team plans to study more subjects that experience adverse effects from tattoos to establish possible links with the chemical and structural properties of the color pigments used.

Famous Paintings Are Being Reborn as Latte Art

Latte art has taken the world by storm in recent years, but what South Korean barista Lee Kang-bin is brewing up is undoubtedly next level. Kang-bin in turn makes use iconic works of art, ranging from Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” thus transforming them into drinkable masterpieces.

Lee also showcases more light-hearted designs such as the Instagram logo and various cartoon characters, as all in all, his creations are said to take roughly 15 minutes to make. Kang-bin begins with white steamed milk, then applying pops of color with a small brush.

Follow over to Lee Kang-bin’s Instagram for more of his eye-catching latte art.

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Polk Museum of Art Becomes Academic Art Museum at Florida Southern College

After more than a year in planning, The Polk Museum of Art became Central Florida’s only community academic art museum on June 1 when a new affiliation was launched between the Museum and Florida Southern College. The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College brings a host of benefits to the College, the Museum, the local community, the State of Florida and visitors to the region.

“Both the College and the Museum believe strongly in supporting the vital role the arts have in enriching the lives of all of us,” said Florida Southern College President Anne Kerr. “With a strong relationship between the College and the Museum, we can together serve students, artists, the community, and tourists to build a world-class community academic art museum.”

The Museum will remain fully open to the public, with free admission thanks to generous donors, and will host acclaimed art exhibitions, expand its role as a venue for community events, and become a leader in the academic art museum world. The Museum will retain its own non-profit status and strive to draw visitors to the Lakeland area from throughout the United States.

The boards of both the College and the Museum enthusiastically approved the arrangement earlier this year.

The Museum will maintain its historic ties to the Lakeland community. “Years ago, members of the Junior Welfare League (now the Junior League of Greater Lakeland) came together to establish this Museum, and I’m thrilled that we have a new chapter for this institution that will enrich and expand the Museum’s role in this area,” said Dr. Sarah D. McKay, a long-time member of both the Museum and College Board of Trustees. “We believe great days are ahead of us, and we look forward to bringing an even more vibrant museum to the people of Central Florida.”

This important new chapter for the College and the Museum begins with a major exhibition of works from the Dutch Golden Age. Rembrandt’s Academy: Old Master Paintings from Private Dutch Collections, organized by the Hoogsteder Museum Foundation, The Netherlands, will be on view from June 10 through September 24.

A second exhibition features paintings of American Figurative Art from a newly acquired gift. Over the course of several decades, Florida Southern College alumnus J. William Meek III studiously assembled one of the nation’s largest collections of “figurative” artworks that illustrate the human form in a myriad of styles and techniques. Now, in addition to donating works from his own personal collection, Meek is gifting a collection of 500-plus artworks from major American artists and their estates, further enhancing the artistic legacy of the College that is home to the world’s largest collection of buildings designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

“These and future exhibitions will enrich academic life for students in our region by serving as springboards for study across the curriculum, and will enhance the visitor experience for everyone,” said Claire Orologas, Executive Director of the Polk Museum of Art.

The Meek Collection will be housed and displayed at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College as part of this historic new affiliation between the College and Museum that will significantly bolster both institutions and their mission to celebrate and support the arts.

The Meek donation is one of several major arts events at Florida Southern College this year, including the recent visit by Dr. Glenn Lowry, director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which is celebrating Wright’s 150th birthday with a major exhibit entitled “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive.”

Among artworks in the new exhibitions:

  • “Swimmer #7,” by John Briggs, depicting a woman floating peacefully on crystal blue water.
  • Sir Gottfried Kneller, Lubeck 1646-1723 London, “A Cartographer at his Studies,” with the maser peacefully at work making a map.
  • “Glow of Winter Light,” by Richard Segalman, an urban scene featuring silhouetted figures casting shadows across a blustery city street amid the winter sun.
  • “Forbidden Fruit,” by Robert Vickrey, portraying a young girl captivated by a wall mural of the Adam and Eve being ejected from the Garden of Eden.

About Florida Southern College
Founded in 1883, Florida Southern College is a private, comprehensive college and the oldest college in Florida. Florida Southern maintains its commitment to academic excellence through more than 50 undergraduate programs and distinctive graduate programs in business, accounting, education, and nursing. Florida Southern has a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio; is an award-winning national leader in engaged learning; and boasts 30 NCAA Division II national championships. It is ranked among the Top 20 Best Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report; named a 2016 Top ROI College by Forbes; and included in The Princeton Review’s 381 Best Colleges and The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2017. The College is committed to the development of the whole student through vibrant student life programs that prepare graduates to make a positive, consequential impact on society. FSC is conveniently located within an hour’s drive of both Orlando and Tampa and home to the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. Named the “Most Beautiful Campus in the Nation” for two consecutive years by The Princeton Review and one of the nation’s “Ten College Campuses with the Best Architecture” by Architectural Digest, Florida Southern is an internationally-recognized place of beauty and academic excellence.

The Health Benefits of Art

Creating and interpreting art can be intimidating to the average person, but science proves you don’t to have possess artistic talent to reap the numerous health benefits art has to offer. Whether your masterpiece is worthy of hanging in a museum or on the fridge, art gives you the freedom to release your inhibitions and try something new without the fear of falling short.

Viewing and producing art can have significant positive impacts on the mind and body. From reducing stress to improving quality of life, art is a powerful health tool that is helping people of all ages worldwide.

Art Reduces Stress

Making and viewing art can reduce cortisone levels that contribute to stress. A 2016 study analyzed saliva samples of 39 healthy adults to test cortisol levels before and after 45 minutes of art making. The results indicated that creating art led to a significant lowering of cortisol levels. Participants also stated that they felt more relaxed and free of constraints after the art-making session and were more eager to continue producing art in the future.

If you don’t feel comfortable making art on your own, or prefer guidelines to help with creation, break out your colored pencils and try an “anti-stress” adult coloring book. Adult coloring books have become a popular trend in recent years and are proven to be therapeutic and relaxing to the mind. Similar to meditation, coloring allows you to focus on one thing at a time; this helps to alleviate anxiety.

Art is Good for the Mind

Because art is not an exact science like math, people can learn to develop creative problem-solving skills when creating art. Even medical professionals rely on art to sharpen their minds. “Enhancing Observational Skills” is a museum-based program that is now required class for first year Yale medical students. The idea is to teach students how to observe and see clearly in order to later care for their patients in the best way possible.

Creating art can also improve self-esteem. When you finish a project, you experience a sense of accomplishment and happiness. This applies in the art arena as well. When completing a work of art, these same feelings occur and can lead to heightened dopamine levels.

Art Can Improve Quality of Life

Art has been proven to be a powerful therapeutic tool. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are most commonly subjected to art therapy as a way to improve focus and communication skills that are affected by the diseases. Creating art stimulates the senses and can even assist in the recollection of seemingly dormant memories.

Art is also a popular therapy for cancer patients. In a study, children who were going through painful cancer procedures and were exposed to art therapy ultimately expressed more positive and collaborative behavior. Adults and children alike who go through traumatic experiences often internalize the pain they feel as a result. Art and art therapy allows people to express and release the experiences that are too agonizing to verbalize.

Travel: The Walled Off Hotel

Banksy is famous for his social commentary. His latest statement arrives not through a piece of street art, but instead an actual business. The Walled Off Hotel sits just feet away from the wall that separates it — and the rest of Bethlehem — from the West Bank of Palestine. It currently has ten rooms, customized with artworks by Banksy, Sami Musa, and Dominique Petrin, and ranging from the barracks-like “Budget” to an ornate “Presidential” suite. The hotel bar is decorated with security cameras and slingshots, and should you need reminding of the point of the whole thing every room offers “views” of the wall just steps from the front door.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art To Release Thousands of Classic Works Online

In a move sure to have art aficionados rejoicing with excitement, New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art is gearing up to bombard the web with classic works from its vast archives. While these historic pieces remain under tight guard, the Met has decidedly agreed to lift any licensing restrictions on its own photography of these artworks — allowing them to be freely viewed and used online.

In a statement released by Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the museum, “Increasing access to the Museum’s collection and scholarship serves the interests and needs of our 21st-century audiences by offering new resources for creativity, knowledge, and ideas. We thank Creative Commons, an international leader in open access and copyright, for being a partner in this effort.”

How Tattoo Artists Could Help Reduce Skin Cancer

Tattoo artists may have a role to play in reducing cases of advanced skin cancer, researchers say.

That’s because tattoos can sometimes hide skin cancers, and make it harder for doctors to diagnose these cancers early, according to a new study.

The researchers found that tattoo artists typically don’t have a standard way of dealing with the moles that they may see on their clients, and contrary to what doctors would recommend, many will tattoo right over a mole if a client requests it.

Meanwhile, less than a third of the tattoo artists (29 percent) said they had recommended that a client see a dermatologist for a suspicious skin lesion.

“Our study highlights an opportunity for dermatologists to educate tattoo artists about skin cancer, particularly melanoma, to help reduce the incidence of skin cancers hidden in tattoos,” the researchers, from the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in the Jan. 18 issue of the journal JAMA Dermatology. Tattoo artists could also be taught how to recognize a suspicious skin lesion, and encourage their clients to see a dermatologist if they have such a lesion, the researchers said.

There have been several cases of people who had tattoos that concealed skin cancers, the researchers said.

In the new study, the researchers surveyed 42 tattoo artists during the summer of 2016, and asked them about their approach to dealing with moles and other skin lesions or conditions on their clients.

More than half (55 percent) of these tattoo artists said they had declined to tattoo skin with a rash, lesion or spot. When asked why they declined to tattoo skin in these cases, 50 percent said it was because they were concerned about the final appearance of the tattoo, while 29 percent said they were concerned about skin cancer. Another 19 percent said they were concerned about bleeding in their client’s mole.

When asked how they dealt with moles, about 40 percent said they tattooed around moles, but 43 percent said that they either tattooed over moles, or did what their clients asked them to do regarding the moles. About 70 percent said that their clients had never asked them to avoid tattooing over a mole or skin lesion.

“There has been a significant rise in melanoma incidence among young adults, some of the most frequent tattoo customers, making surveillance by tattoo artists especially important,” the researchers said.

Future studies could follow tattoo artists over time, and examine the effect of skin cancer education in this group, they said.

Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, and the first sign of the disease is often a change to an existing mole, such as in its size, shape or color, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Art Basel Electrifies Miami Beach

Miami Beach boasts sunny beaches, iconic Art Deco architecture and glitzy nightlife, and all that becomes the backdrop for art from around the world when Art Basel comes to town.

Founded in 1970 in Basel, Switzerland, Art Basel is now an international affair with additional art shows staged in Miami Beach and Hong Kong.

At the Miami Beach show Dec. 1-4, top dealers from galleries around the world showcase their works, up-and-coming artists display their creations and outdoor installations add an additional thrill for revelers, who come to the festival for the people-watching and the parties as much as the art on display.

More than 200 well-known galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa showcase work from masters of modern and contemporary art. Pieces by emerging artists are also on display.

Paintings, sculptures, photographs, films and installations set the foundation, while large-scale artworks, film and performance art “become part of the landscape” at area beaches and parks.

Works by more than 4,000 artists are on display, ranging from the creations of emerging artists to more well-known artists.

More than 70,000 people attend the Miami Beach fair each year. Museums and galleries across the city also hold special exhibits and events in conjunction with the art show.

Street art is part of the event, too. You can check out more of the artists’ work below and online at the Art Basel twitter feed.

All-new Epcot International Festival of the Arts coming in January

Walt Disney World announced today that another festival is coming to Epcot, called the International Festival of the Arts.

The event will run six weekends at the park and will feature a variety of art, including visual, culinary and performing arts.

The festival will also bring Disney Theatrical bringing a variety of musical and Broadway performances to the America Gardens Theatre stage.  Guests will even experience segments from Disney Broadway hits like The Lion King?, Newsies, and Aladdin.

And what would a festival at Epcot be without food?  During the International Festival of the Arts, guests will have a variety of food to choose from.

The event will run Friday – Monday in January at Epcot.

Meet The Artist Selling Human Skulls Online

Zane Wylie has purchased dozens of human skulls. He carves the bones with intricate designs and sells them on his website, RealHumanSkulls, for thousands of dollars. But the art of bone carving is complex: It’s both technically difficult, and it’s increasingly tough to find legally obtained skulls for purchase, as major online retailer eBay prohibited the sale of human remains this year.

Wylie, who uses this pseudonym for his skull caving business, didn’t carve the first human skull he bought, which he nicknamed “Yorick.” Instead, he carefully studied it. “I was in a program that studied fine muscle movements in the human face,” he told Vocativ, and he purchased the specimen to help support his studies. Though he said he was glad to find an excuse to buy a human skull, which had long intrigued him.

Wylie was fascinated by skulls as a young boy — he had a particular interest in Marvel’s “Ghost Rider.” As an adult, he realized there was a thriving online marketplace for bones and bone carvings, and he decided to try his hand at the art. After experimenting on deer and goat skulls, he moved to the big time — carving on a real human skull.

“I wish I would have clocked how many hours it took me [to carve] the first one,” he said. “And it wasn’t just because the equipment that I had wasn’t the best. It was because I was just so paranoid about doing something wrong and disrespecting what I was carving.”

The hours of work paid off, and the intricately decorated skull sold quickly on eBay. After this initial success, Zane purchased more skulls and soon started a full-fledged business, complete with homemade over-the-top promotional videos.

Wylie operates out of his garage in suburban Virginia, and he said that he doesn’t mind neighbors checking out his work, though they aren’t always very enthused about it. “I’m probably not doing much for the property values around my neighborhood,” he said. “But the neighbor kids stay away, and that’s okay by me.”

With demand for his skulls growing, supply became an issue. In July, eBay changed their terms of service to prohibit the sales of human remains. This decision came on the heels of a Journal of Forensic Sciences investigation that found over 400 examples of skulls offered for sale on the site, 80 percent of which were classified by the researchers as medical or teaching tools.

Wylie said that while concerns over purchasing bones stolen from graves are valid, a close inspection can usually distinguish between legally and illegally obtained remains. “It takes a lot of work to get a skull to the condition to be a medical skull,” he said, referencing the professional cleaning and labeling process that medical specimens undergo. And their pristine condition makes them easy to identify as legitimate. He recalled one skull seller who contacted him over email, offering photos of his wares. Wylie said when he saw dirt visible inside the skulls, “it was obvious that it was grave robbing.”

But, thankfully for Wylie, the eBay ban didn’t end the skull trade. Instead, sellers shifted to platforms that do not prohibit their sale, like Instagram and Facebook, in addition to long-established retail outlets like The Bone Room and Skulls Unlimited.

For now, there are still reputable outlets from which to source these calcium canvases, and the skull carving featured here is currently available. Happy Halloween shopping.

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