The Side Show

Exhibition Dates:

July 21 – October 7, 2018
Warner Gallery

Reception: Friday, October 5, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, tattoos were an exotic curiosity in the United States. Those with enough tattoos could earn a living by exhibiting themselves as part of dime museums or circus sideshows. A few became famous for their tattoos and the stories they invented as to how the tattoos were acquired. Captain Costentenus, for example, exhibited with P.T. Barnum beginning in 1873, claiming he was captured in Burma and tattooed over several months as a form of torture. While the story was false (he later admitted to being tattooed by European artists), it increased his notoriety and he was able to retire as a wealthy man in 1885.

Tattoos are now more popular then ever. Instead of going to a dime museum or circus sideshow to see them, we encounter them every day. Additionally, social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram allow us to share images of our tattoos with an immediacy that could not be imagined even 50 years ago. Without the veneer of exoticism, we can now appreciate tattoos as the fine art they are.

Shared images of tattoos that have special meaning. Part of Beyond Ink! Exhibition.

*We are no longer accepting submissions

You can pick up your prints from the SBMA offices (2nd floor of the museum) following the close of the exhibition. SBMA offices are open Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST. If those times are not possible for you, please e-mail Mark Rospenda at for alternate arrangements. Prints not picked up by December 31, 2018 will be discarded.

Thanks for participating!

25 images will be selected to be a part of The Side Show, a photography exhibition within Beyond Ink: Recent Artwork by South Bend and Regional Tattoo Artists.

The Details:

  • Follow @SouthBendArt on Instagram
  • Share your image with the hashtag #TheSBMA and #SBMAtattoo.
  • Submit your images by June 24, 11:59 p.m. EST.
  • All images should be square formatted.
  • Include some basic information when you share. This will be included in the wall label next to your print:
    • A sentence or two about what your tattoo(s) mean to you.
    • If you worked with an artist you want to give a shout-out to, share their name and Instagram handle.
    • Include the name of the photographer if you didn’t take the picture yourself.
  • Images will be juried by SBMA staff. 
  • Images will be selected based on the quality and composition of the photos, as well as the tattoo and information you choose to share about it.
  • Selected artists will be contacted by July 2 with requests for high resolution files for printing purposes. 
  • Final prints will be 8×8 inches.
  • If selected, your work will be on display in the SBMA’s Warner Gallery within the Beyond Ink exhibition.
  • There is no fee to submit images.
  • There are no restrictions but images must be your own and must be suitable for an all-ages audience.
  • You can keep your print at the end of the exhibition.

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