Tattooed and Tenacious: Inked Women in California’s History

Exhibit Opening Spring 2021!

From upper-class women who started the tattoo craze to the working-class Tattooed Ladies who performed in circus sideshows, this exhibit puts the foremothers of modern tattooing in the spotlight. Through photographs and personal histories, this exhibit uncovers the fascinating and largely unknown stories of women and tattoos before WWII. A Show stopping mannequin, hand drawn by current Bay Area female tattoo artists and specifically commissioned for this show, highlights how far women and tattooing have come.

Maud Stevens Wagner
Maud Stevens Wagner is credited as the first known non-Native American woman to practice the art of tattooing. Maud, a circus performer, learned the art of tattooing from her husband Gus Wagner. The two eventually opened a shop where Maud advertised her services under the name M. Stevens Wagner. Many were surprised to enter the shop and find Maud behind the electric tattoo pen.
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“Tattooed and Tenacious: Inked Women in California’s History” was originated by curator Amy Cohen at the Hayward Area Historical Society in Hayward, CA, and is traveled by Exhibit Envoy.

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Photographs of Camron-Stanford House by Reenie Raschke Photography