A Brazilian tattoo artist named Flavia Carvalho embarked upon a year-long project to transform the scars on women’s bodies into beautiful pieces of art. While some of the women were injured in accidents or had scares as a result of a medical procedure such as a Cesarean section or a mastectomy, the majority of them were domestic violence victims. For all of the women, the tattoos provided an opportunity for healing. The participation of women who had experienced domestic violence helped to raise awareness about that issue. The project was called “A Pele Da Flor” which means “Deeper Than Skin” in Portuguese. Carvalho created the art and made the tattoos for free.
The project began when a woman came to her to have a scar on her abdomen covered. She got the scar when a man stabbed her in a nightclub after she refused to kiss him. Carvalho says she was touched by the woman’s reaction to the tattoo, a bird alighting on flowers, and realized then what she could do. She chronicled the results of her year-long project in before and after photos. Each of the tattoos that Carvalho designed carried messages of hope, survival and rebirth.
One woman was stabbed in the stomach in an attempted murder. Carvalho changed the scars to a scene of birds, butterflies and flowers. A spray of cherry blossoms decorated the back of a woman who had been shot there by a former boyfriend.
Another woman’s arm was badly burned in a 2013 nightclub fire that claimed the life of her boyfriend. For her, Carvalho created a warrior woman over the scars.
For a woman whose boyfriend shot her in the knee, Carvalho created a brightly colored owl soaring skyward. Another woman had come back a life of addiction living on the streets. Among the violence she suffered there was a wound inflicted by a shotgun. Carvalho gave her a phoenix, the ultimate symbol of rebirth after adversity.
Yet another woman who was stabbed in the abdomen suffered the wound at the hands of her boyfriend. The boyfriend died from overuse of alcohol and drugs. Carvalho created an image of a beautiful young woman’s face over the scar.
With the year-long project now in the past, Carvalho still works to raise awareness of domestic violence issues.