April Andreasen

Art History

April Andreasen is a Southern California native. She began her academic career at Santa Barbara Community College, where she studied studio art. After transferring to CU Denver in the Fall 2021, April combined her love for studio art and writing in pursuit of a BA in Art History. Her research interests include feminist art, tattoo practice, and contemporary art. She will graduate with the honor of Cum Laude in May. Developing skills in painting and drawing has benefitted her mental and spiritual growth. Her thesis project on tattoo reflects her personal interest and goals in the art space. After graduation, April will continue to create art on a freelance basis with a dream of becoming a full-time artist. She will also pursue grad school to become an art therapist. 

“Ink My Scars: Psychological and Medical Benefits of Tattoos”  

Although the practice of tattoo has been documented since the fourth millennium BCE, art historians have only recently begun to study tattoo as a form of art and recognize its socio-cultural significance. Despite the inclusion of tattoo in art historical examination, the therapeutic qualities of tattoo have only received cursory mention in scholarly publications. My project builds on existing research on the artistic qualities of tattoo but will focus on the therapeutic, psychological, and medical benefits of tattoo. First, I will examine tattoo as a form of therapy for traumas such as PTSD, grief, self-harm, and suicide survival and/or prevention. I will then examine how tattoo enables self-expression and identity-formation, such as how it help individuals feel more connected to their ancestral and ethnic origins. Last, I will explore the medical benefits of tattoo as reconstructive treatment for burn victims, breast cancer survivors, and sufferers of skin disorders. I argue that tattoo distinguishes itself as an art form that possesses value beyond aesthetics and ornamentation. Etched on the body, the tattooed image leverages its permanence and location-specificity to provide therapeutic benefits to its owners. This thesis examines aspects of contemporary tattoo beyond their ornamental qualities to broaden not just “what” we consider art, but “how” we consider art’s place in society.