The semicolon, perhaps the most misunderstood punctuation mark, connects ideas that are closely related when an author needs a pause. The author could just end the sentence, but by using a semicolon, she chooses not to.
It's that choice to go on that's inspired the trend of semicolon tattoos as a form of mental health awareness. The "author" (a person struggling with depression, addiction, anxiety, etc.) makes the choice not to end their sentence and get help or just talk about what she's dealing with.
On Saturday, June 4th, Underground Art is hosting Illuminated, a semicolon tattoo event and festival to raise awareness about mental illness. They're selling small semicolon tattoos for $20 to $30 (depending on size and design) to raise money for the Memphis Crisis Center.
Besides tattoos, the outdoor festival, which will take up the block between Bruce and Philadelphia in Cooper-Young, will feature a silent auction, bands, food trucks, a storytelling area, and a chance for people facing mental illness to talk to other people who have the same issues.
"At the entrance, there will be a table and we'll have red and green labels where people can write down whatever it is they're struggling with," says Underground Art owner Angela Russell. "If they write it on green, they're willing to talk about it. So we'll have pairs of chairs scattered about so people can sit down for five minutes and answer questions or ask questions. The point of that is to put a face on these issues and take that stigma away from that.
"If I were to wear a label, it would say 'depression' and 'social anxiety' and 'self-harming,' which isn't something I do now, but I have experience with that. I can talk about what it feels like and what's worked and hasn't worked and just humanize these issues."
Bands scheduled to perform include Name and the Nouns, the Right Mistakes, and the Pocket. Food vendors will include Hot Mess, Say Cheese!, Pink Diva Cupcakery, and the Creamery.