Underworld: Tattooist Explores the Meaning of Aztec Art

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Underworld: Tattooist Explores the Meaning of Aztec Art

Goethe is doing an art show on the theme of death in Mesoamerican culture.

Mexican tattoo artist Goethe Silva Mier has spent his long career studying and specializing in the darker side of Mesoamerican art, especially that of ancient Aztec culture. His portfolio is filled with images of gods and other mythological figures that are representative of his heritage's traditional conception of the afterlife. Now, he has taken his artistic pursuits beyond the body and into the gallery with his new show Underworld, which features his replicas of the Aztec art that he has encountered during his extensive travels in Central and South America as well as research into these age-old depictions of death. 

The art show was held this previous Saturday evening at Collective Ink Gallery in Garden Grove, California, and it had an incredible turnout. At the exhibit, Goethe's sculptures, engravings, and paintings provided viewers with a glimpse into the dark and powerful imagery surrounding Aztec culture's beliefs about the underworld. 

“I’ve been tattooing for 23 years, and ever since I started tattooing, this has been my passion,” Goethe says in an interview with OC Weekly. “My work has been focused on the dark side of Mesoamerican cultures, so that is what this is about. I’d like for everyone to learn a little bit about the culture and about what the afterlife means in the Aztec culture.”

Goethe has found a way to branch out into new media beyond tattooing in order to better inform the public about the rich artistic tradition behind his cultural heritage. With efforts like this, these valuable forms of ethnic expression find new life in the contemporary age, making them — similarly to the gods they depict — truly immortal.

If you happen to be out on the west coast, drop by Collective Art Gallery to peruse the exhibit while it's still up. There are photos of it on Goethe's Instagram as well. Also, if you want a piece of superb body art that borrows from this cultural tradition in the arts, consider having a true expert in the subject matter do it for you.

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