By Selene Torres
Body modification, like tattooing and piercing, has always been a tradition among early civilizations. But in contemporary culture it appears new, and so new traditions have modern origins and pioneers that started and contributed to the industry of body art.
Perlingiery, piercer and curator of the Nomad Museum and author of “A Brief History of the Evolution of Body Adornment in Western Culture,” began
piercing in 1988 and co-founded the Association of Professional Piercers in 1994.
With the new organization (APP) he helped petition the California Legislature
for sanitation standards that have been adopted widely in the U.S. His
grandmother, Dr. Naomi M. Coval, was a world traveler. She visited some of the most remote places of
the world and its tribes, bringing back artifacts and pictures. Blake took great interest in these treasures
and they were the inspiration for his passion for body modification. He felt a close connection to the cultural practices
of the Dayak people of Borneo.
In 1990 Blake was working at Body Manipulations piercing studio in San Francisco. Body modification was growing in popularity at this time as an act of self-expression and life style. During these early years stretched ear lobes were only beginning to become popular and Blake was the first person to wear plugs as large as 2."
Modern body art can easily be seen as something borrowed from other
cultures. The nomad philosophy and Blake's
vision is "the re-infusion of the modern world with tribal customs and
beliefs is a means by which we can rediscover our humanity and
interconnectedness, and in turn sustain the planet and its race." Thus, the first tribal studio in the industry
was created as Nomad in 1993. Blake and
his partner Kristian both former employees of the world's first two piercing
studios (Body Manipulations and Gauntlet) were looking to embody tribal
aesthetics and to define and develop new techniques. By free-handing most piercings (piercing
without tools) and performing 1/2" initial piercings they were offering faster
and more visually rewarding piercings. At the
time they had to practice their tribal style work in secret. Nomad paved the way for the future of what is now considered “extreme”
Blake went on to open Nomad Australia and later Moved to Oregon were he opened the Nomad Museum and piercing studio. He married his wife Leah in 2001 at the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins and soon after they had his daughter Mayan Grace. His family has continued to grow and so has the Nomad Museum. Today Blake is still piercing at Nomad in Oregon were he makes one of a kind jewelry from organic materials, precious metals, and gemstones, as well as curating the museum, exhibiting artifacts from Africa, Borneo, and New Guinea. Nomad's goal is to continue helping make people aware of the history of body art.
Posted by John Johnson.