|First Amendment Gallery
Dark Was The Night
First Amendment Gallery is excited to announce a solo exhibition of textile works by San Francisco-based multidisciplinary artist Christopher Martin, titled Dark Was The Night. In this show, Martin has contemplated the long and diverse history of tattooing, including its roots in native North American culture as well as its reintroduction to the United States in the mid 20th century. Although tattoos were prominent in native cultures that have existed in present-day California for generations, the art form didn’t achieve explosive popularity until the end of World War II, when thousands of sailors returned to San Francisco with tattoos they received while stationed in the South Pacific.
Martin created this body of work during his residency at the Museum of African Diaspora’s dedicated studio space in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood. Throughout the show, Martin draws parallels in the history of tattooing and the colonial history of African Americans via the Transatlantic Slave Trade. By recreating classic tattoo imagery on cotton, he reclaims the material from its own colonial past and ties to slavery in an effort to bring both the narrative of tattooing and his own personal narrative into conversation.