Berkeley Public Library Helps Spearhead Exhibit of Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran Memorial Tattoo Art

April 22, 2014

Contact: Anwan Baker
Supervising Library, Adult Services
Berkeley Public Library

Berkeley Public Library Helps Spearhead
 Exhibit of Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran Memorial Tattoo Art

Berkeley, California.April 22, 2014 — With nearly 2 million veterans in California and a generation of veterans returning from two wars, a cooperative of innovative library systems have launched a timely and relevant project, War Ink, an online exhibit of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran memorial tattoo art. War Ink will launch on Veterans Day and represents a platform to explore the unfiltered record of war that veterans have documented on their body. Veterans interested in the project are encouraged to contact Jason Deitch directly at or 510-593-8423. To submit your story go to:

War Ink will consist of a multimedia exhibit of 18 veterans from throughout the state.  Already veterans from the following counties—Alameda, Los Angeles County, Monterey County, San Francisco, Santa Clara—have been sending in photographs of their tattoos.

Each veteran’s story surrounding their tattoos will be recorded by national renowned StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative, and their tattoos photographed by Shaun Roberts whose work has been featured in GQ, Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose Magazine and War Ink will be curated by Jason Deitch, the project’s scholar, as well as a former combat medic and sociologist, who co-created War Ink with Chris Brown, Contra Costa County Library’s Project Director. “This project represents both a unique collaboration for cutting edge and relevant cultural programming as well as a powerful context for the authentic and honest voice of veteran culture…reaching into and genuinely interacting with the communities that veterans are struggling to rejoin.” Chris Brown says, “We're getting veterans from different service branches, ethnicity and gender.”

War Ink will be made possible through an ever growing collaborative that includes nationally renowned StoryCorps, grant-makers Cal Humanities, Pacific Library Partnership, and a cooperative group of innovative library systems who are exploring the creative potential for the library field:  Alameda Free Library, Berkeley Public Library, Contra Costa County Library, Mountain View Library, Oakland Public Library, Sacramento Public Library, San Diego County Library, San Jose Public Library, San Mateo County Library, Santa Clara County Library District, and Santa Cruz Public Libraries.  

Founder of StoryCorps Dave Isay says, "We are delighted to be partnering with Contra Costa County Library to celebrate the diverse and vibrant stories of California's veteran and military community. In doing so, we remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters."

War Ink was made possible through two grants awarded to Contra Costa County Library. Cal Humanities, an independent non-profit state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, first saw the potential of the project and awarded the library a $10,000 Community Stories grant to supplement StoryCorps’ commitment to record the stories of 18 veterans for the Military Voices Initiative project. Pacific Library Partnership then more than doubled the project’s resources with a $15,000 Innovation and Technology Opportunity Grant, allowing War Ink to expand beyond Contra Costa County. Together, these grants created the opportunity for audacious and collaborative cultural programming addressing a relevant social topic.