English major and creative writer Margaret (Lucy) Hughes '11 saved for a long time to be able to afford a full-color back tattoo of her beloved Virginia Woolf. "I have a recurring dream that I'm walking with Virginia Woolf in a woods," she said. "She's telling me great stuff, but when I wake up, I can't remember what she said." Photographer: Stefan Hester.

Plato and Aristotle, philosophizing beneath shirtsleeves. The personal seal of Johann Sebastian Bach, peering out from the space between legging and shoe. Virginia Woolf's head (see cover photo), revealed on a shoulder blade.

Kenyon students have always found creative outlets for their academic passions. These days, body art is part of the mix. Some students have chosen to inscribe symbols of intellectual identity on their bodies, turning the ancient medium of tattooing to their own purposes.

Their tattos are public statements of private pleasures—and also the reverse. Some students with easily visible tattoos said they were too personal to talk about. But those seen in the following pages shared not only their ink but the stories behind them.

Beyond the intellectual content of the pictured body images, some said their tattoos mark close bonds between themselves and a parent. Another knows that her parents disapprove.

Rising senior Brendan O'Connor, an English major, mused on the multiple motivations that drove his decision to get a tattoo, especially one reflecting intellectual growth. For one thing, he pointed out, writing on the body is a narrative tradition, one in which Kenyon students, by predilection and training, would want to participate. "The body is a text," he said, "and tattoos fit right in with wrinkles and scars and gray hair in terms of the story your body tells."

O'Connor, whose tattoo reflects the impact of reading Moby-Dick, expects to regard the image on his arm much as he does the marks his parents scratched on the wall to measure out his height as he grew up: "It gives you something to remember who you were when you got it and to mark how far you've gone since then."

He added: "There are other reasons as well, thematic and philosophical, but that would start to get really academic because I'm a Kenyon student and nothing is straightforward. Not even tattoos. Especially not tattoos."

Charlotte Greene '14

Ariana Chomitz '13

Brendan O'Connor '12

Stella Ryan-Lozon '13

Hannah Withers '11

Christian Martinez-Canchola '12 DeliciousFacebook FacebookStumbleUpon StumbleUponDigg Diggreddit reddit